Quality, Standards and Testing

Water needed for human consumption, industrial purposes or other requirements must cater to certain minimum standards. The quality of any water is defined by its physical and chemical properties (characteristics). Physical properties include its appearance (colour, clarity and odour, perhaps also its taste) while the chemical properties refer to the constituents dissolved in it. Some of the physical properties are measurable and can be expressed in units of measurement while others like appearance, odour or taste are clearly subjective. However, all the chemical constituents can be measured accurately.

Drinking water must meet certain quality standards to safeguard the health of the people. The permissible and desirable limits of various parameters in drinking water have been detailed as per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) standard specifications for potable water. These parameters are included in BIS-10500-1991. The various parameters covered include colour, odour, pH, total dissolved solids, hardness, alkalinity, elemental compounds such as iron, manganese, sulphate, nitrate, chloride, fluoride, arsenic, chromium, copper, cyanide, lead, mercury, zinc and coliform bacteria. The tolerance limits for inland surface waters for various classes of water use have been published by the Central Water Commission. Per ISI-IS: 2296-1982, the tolerance limits of parameters are specified as per classified use of water depending on various uses of water ranging from Class A to Class E.

What does the water that one drinks contain, what substances are dissolved in it and what are their safe limits? What are the issues that affect water quality? For more detailed information on all this, please read our FAQs on Rules, Regulations & Standards concerning water and Equipments used to measure water quality and quantity

Featured Articles
June 22, 2021 Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates in drinking water: A health challenge
Water treatment facilities are incapable of removing many chemical compounds and need to be upgraded (Image: PxHere)
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Picture credit: Romit Sen
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Routine check done by the sewage treatment plant staff in Delawas, Jaipur. The plant is part of the ADB best practices projects list. (Image: Asian Development Bank, Flickr Commons)
Online Water Quality Management Course
This online course on Water Quality Management (WQM) is being organized by INREM Foundation along with Water Quality Network. The course is aimed at equipping participants towards the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) program. Swati Bansal posted 6 days 22 hours ago WQM
Toxic chemicals: A barrier to safe drinking water
Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates in drinking water: A health challenge Amita Bhaduri posted 1 month 1 week ago

A drinking water quality, testing, monitoring and surveillance framework was released by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in March 2021 as a part of the government’s flagship Nal se Jal scheme.

Water treatment facilities are incapable of removing many chemical compounds and need to be upgraded (Image: PxHere)
Drinking water standard for nickel
(not verified) posted 3 months ago

Drinking water standard for nickel, according to Indian standard.


Need suggestion on water purifiers
(not verified) posted 4 months 2 weeks ago

Hello experts,

First of all, let me thank you for the wonderful work you are doing here by providing your expert opinions.

TDS of drinking water
(not verified) posted 4 months 3 weeks ago

What should be the TDS of drinking water and when we need a water purifier? I found a best water purifier article which says it should be around 300 PPM whereas RO water we drink has hardly 50.

How to get the water quality report released by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS)
(not verified) posted 6 months 1 week ago


I need to get a "Water Quality Report " as following mentioned

Recently, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has released Water Quality Report for State capitals & Delhi as analysed by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS).

Minimum essential parameter for drinking water potability test
(not verified) posted 8 months 1 week ago


What are the minimum parameters to be checked to ensure potability of drinking water, if the sources are 1. borewell 2. RO treated borewell water

No improvement in the water quality of the Ganga during lockdown: CPCB
News this week Swati Bansal posted 9 months 3 weeks ago

Water quality of Ganga river remained grim during lockdown: CPCB

Ganga river at Kachla, Uttar Pradesh. (Source: IWP Flickr Photos)
Arghyam is looking for a Mission Leader - Partner Engagements
Arghyam is looking for a motivated, passionate and hands on leader to work with actors in the water ecosystem to enable the scale of solutions to solve water crisis in India. Swati Bansal posted 11 months 1 week ago

About Arghyam 

Groundwater extraction: NGT gets strict with commercial entities
Policy matters this week Swati Bansal posted 11 months 2 weeks ago

NGT bans granting general permissions for groundwater extraction to commercial entities

NGT gets strict with commercial entities (Source: IWP Flickr album)