Saturday, 15 September 2012

Water water everywhere...

When I was in the UK during the Summer I was watching the film "Erin Brocovich" and it got me thinking about water quality.

If you've never seen the film starring Julia Roberts, its a true life story about a Legal Clerk with no legal training who compiled a case against a large company for alleged Water Contamination. Hmmm... when I put it like that it sounds like a right barrel of laughs, but trust me, it IS a good film

Most people that visit Egypt tend to stick to bottled water to be on the safe side but recently a couple of lesser known brands have been withdrawn from the market due to quality issues.

It's no problem sticking to bottled water if you are on holiday for a week of two, but when you live here it gets a bit of a pain. 

Stockpiling lots of boxes of water.
What to do with the empty bottles? It's a recycling nightmare. 
Where to store all the water boxes? 

The ideal solution would be to just drink the water from our kitchen tap...the problem we have is that we don't have mains water.

As we're in a rural area, mains water hasn't reached us yet so we like others in our area source water from a well.

Driven wells are pretty common here in Luxor in areas that are remote or don't yet have access to mains water for whatever reason. These type of wells are not just used here but in countries all over the world. Here is an example of what it looks like under the ground.

 Ours is powered by electric but some of the villagers pump it by hand. The pumps look a little like this one (ours is painted black though and a little shinier). 

Many of the people here actually prefer mains water and say it's safer than mains water which they say tastes funny and is often heavily chlorinated. When we used to have a flat with mains water, sometimes the water used to come out less than crystal clear.

 I can't imagine drinking the well water without a filter but which one to buy? I had no idea how safe our well water was but curiosity got the better of me so I purchased one of these Well Testing Kits. I've asked on lots of forums in the past where I can get water tested but nobody seemed to know until a lady from Alexandria suggested I get a testing kit.

The test comes with test strips and vials and tests for the top 10 most common contaminants. This photo is of the box and details the contaminants as well as the implications to your health and white goods if your water contains them. It's a little scary especially when you realised that many of these contaminants will not just disappear during the boiling process.

Now prior to this test I have to confess to being a bit ignorant about water quality. I've often been guilty of thinking "Hey! If it doesn't give me a dose of Tuts's revenge it must be ok?" Even though I never put it to the test...

So, I, Ruby T unleashed my inner scientist and got testing. Would the villagers be right? Would the water be safe to drink? Or would it have any hidden nasties? What do you think? Here are the results.

First up, Bacteria. Now this one was great to do. The vial has Bacteria Growth powder in, you add a water sample then leave it in a warm place for 48 hours. If after this time span it remains purple it is Bacteria free, if it turns yellow it contains Bacteria and needs further testing to ascertain what Bacteria it is. is my sample after 48 hours

Bacteria Vial - Free of bacteria!!

Yes, still a lovely shade of Purple which indicates it's Bacteria free. Phew! I'm relieved about that one I can tell you.

Next up, Lead and Pesticides. A negative reading for lead and pesticides is indicated when there is either no line near the number two on each strip or the line is fainter than the line nearer the number one.  Here goes...

Bingo! Yes, a negative reading yet again. This is getting fun isn't it?

Next up we have Ph and water hardness. Now I know we have a bit of a problem with limescale which doesn't have health implications but does have an impact on your white goods, taps and showers when you get a build up. Plus I'm always descaling everything. So I wasn't expecting to do to well on this one. Here are the results...

Yes as expected, the levels of hardness of pretty high, but in regards to health the chlorine levels are well within the safe range (set by EPA a US based Environmental Agency).

Next up, the Nitrate test which as you can see was yet another good result for "The Orange Grove" well :-)

Finally, last up we have the Iron test...

Yes, the results were "well" within the safe range, so it looks like the Villagers were right, the results are pretty good!

We're still going to get a water filter for our drinking water but I have to say, I'm pretty happy with these results.


  1. Hey RT glad to see your water test went well!! Hope u are settling home ok. Only been back in UK 3 days but missing Luxor already can't wait to get back. Sam :)

  2. Great blog and really helpful! We have both mains and well water/pump here but the family only use the well to irrigate the garden as they say the water is too salty for humans. After reading your blog I might try drinking it instead and see what happens. When we build our own house, trad mudbrick, i wanted a well and not mains so this blog has really helped. we live on the edge of desert, reclaimed land, so it might need testing too. I will give it a go and tell you what happens. Thank you.

    1. I was shocked by the results, I was expecting to find bacteria in the water but nothing. I would love to find a lab here in Luxor that does testing as I got this kit from England - Amazon to be precise. The water here does have high levels of lime which is what they may mean by salty. I don't believe high amounts of lime is dangerous but it is a nightmare in kettles and on showers etc. We don't have any mains water here so we use well water for everything. We had an inexpensive filter put between the pump and the house that reduces any dust or sand that might get into the supply, this has also improved the limescale residue in the bathroom. We've now had a reverse osmosis filter installed under the sink that filters it and makes it like spring water. This one cost around LE1200 but we were using bottles water to drink so we will get our money back in about 6 month and no more plastics! Hooray! We also don't have problems with them cutting off the water supply as we are in control. The only think is if we get a power cut (fortunately not often here) the water goes off as well. I'd love to know how you get on.