Water Chemistry



Ideal range: The pH of drinking Water is ideally between 6.5 and 8.5.


Some guidelines recommend that the pH of drinking water be between 6.5 and 9.0. In the United States, pH is, like TDS, a secondary standard; the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level for pH is between 6.5 and 8.5. According to the EPA, the noticeable effects of a pH that is less than 6.5 include a bitter, metallic taste and corrosion. The noticeable effects of a pH above 8.5 include a slippery feeling, soda-like taste and deposits.


Method of measurement: There are two methods commonly used to measure pH in an estuary.


1. Colorimetric means to measure color. In the colorimetric method, chemicals are added to the water sample and those chemicals react with the water to produce a color change. The color indicates the pH of the water. The color can be measured visually or electronically. The colorimetric method does not work when the water is already colored because it contains dissolved organic matter or large amounts of algae. Colorimetric test kits are inexpensive and can cover a wide range of pH values.


2. The second method uses a pH meter and pH probe. The pH probe is placed in the water sample and connected to the pH meter. At the tip of the probe there is a thin glass bulb. Inside the bulb are two electrodes that measure voltage. One electrode is contained in a liquid with a fixed pH. The other electrode responds to the pH of the water sample. The difference in voltage between the two probes is used to determine the pH. 

Method of control: The pH of the water can be adjusted via a variety of methods; the most common methods include the addition of an acid (lowers the pH), a base (raises the pH) a buffer (maintains and/or stabilizes the ph) and C02 injection (?). There are several methods that can increase the pH of water, before disinfection. The pH is commonly increased using sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide, but a better way of dealing with low pH is to use calcium and magnesium carbonate, which not only will increase pH levels, but will also make the water less corrosive and both calcium and magnesium are of health benefits as opposed to sodium.

Definition: pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The range goes from 0 - 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. pH is a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water.


Water that has more free hydrogen ions is acidic, whereas water that has more free hydroxyl ions is basic. Since pH can be affected by chemicals in the water, pH is an important indicator of water that is changing chemically.

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