Before deciding to use water from a stream, a well, or from rain water harvesting have the water tested for “generic E. coli.”
Check out the water testing tips and a list of water testing laboratories in NC.
Dr. Chris Gunter, NC State Vegetable Production Specialist, recommends doing a generic E. coli test to quantify the level present (not just present or absent). Contact the lab for specific instructions on collecting and submitting a sample. Retest the water seasonally to monitor the water quality. Tests range in price from $20 to $70 depending on your location and the lab. See the link above for more information on labs.
If the test identifies issues with your water quality, contact your local cooperative extension agent for guidance on how to remediate. Your options might include:
- Accumulating the water in a rain barrel or cistern and treating the with Chlorine (4 ppm)
- Installing a remediation system that uses chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, ozone or UV light
To minimize problems be sure to apply water directly to the soil (to not spray into the air, or onto the leaves and fruits of plants).
You are raising and sharing fresh produce to make people healthy – Be sure the food you are growing is safe!
If your water comes from a municipal source with a water treatment plant then they do regular water testing. You may want to obtain a copy of the test results and keep it for your records.