Unless ignorance suits you best, water testing (along with its complement: regional ground water monitoring) has many benefits when considering how to protect or improve your area, property, or water supply. With proper sampling and analysis, as well as interpretation, the relative "health" and environmental quality of water is revealed by testing. Some things "just are" as a result of source rock or atmospheric conditions. A good but often tragic example is arsenic in ground water. Some aquifer formations contain arsenic. Others contain uranium. Some have high carbonate or iron contents, some low. Other constituents (or changes in constituents) reveal contamination in progress or soon to arrive.
Here, ground water monitoring is defined as data collection focused more on an area than a specific water well.
Some reasons for water testing and ground water monitoring:
1) "What do we have here?" -- a basis in data for knowing the status of a water now.
2) "Is it safe?" -- Especially if you have a private well or other water supply. You are responsible for it and should know the water quality. This is essential to make decisions on prevention or correction of contamination, or water treatment to improve water quality.
3) "Are the ___ [fill in the blank] changing the water?" -- To define this, a baseline set of data is needed. That is water quality before ___ starts or is installed. Then periodic or perhaps continuous testing during the activity. Then analyze results for meaningful changes. Examples situations might be the establishment of a landfill upwind or upgradient, or oil or gas drilling.
Important ("duh"): If there is a problem or possible issue, test for parameters that will indicate potential causes: If your problem is odor and color, test for potential causes, and start with the easiest and most likely -- things going on in the well, then once you rule those out, then look at the potential cause 1000s of feet away.
Ground Water Science performs water sampling, with both onsite and laboratory water analysis. More importantly, we examine the whole situation and provide intelligent interpretation. For example, in testing in relation to oil and gas drilling, we might determine that your problem really is activities on your own property, instead of the gas well drilling a kilometer away. Maybe the sulfur in your well is due to a regional situation, or the gas coming up a fracture from a shallow trap. Or maybe it is the gas drilling down the road.
We also design ground-water monitoring programs and systems. One excellent and economical way to do this is with instrumented wells with continuous monitoring. Instruments can be used to detect key markers that distinguish "alien" (for example, oilfield brine) from local fresh ground water.
Contact us about water testing and monitoring in Ohio, West Virginia, or western Pennsylvania. We can also make recommendations for other areas.
Other resources: Contact the health and environment authorities (such as a county health dept) that oversees your type of water supply for basic environmental health testing.
In oil and gas drilling areas in the USA, states have recommendations for test parameters. Regionally here, Ohio's list and recommendations are pretty highly developed. Because all ground water quality is regional, parameter lists should vary and match local needs. Some recommendations:
A good presentation video on water testing and well problems (41 min - be patient)
Our tech paper on shale gas and oil development (hydrofracturing and all that)
If we sample, test and consult for you, we would tend to follow these recommendations, but part of our "value added" is customizing the testing for your purposes and making sure it is conducted in a valid manner, for example, legally defensible as needed.