It all came about because some friends look after a holiday home that is rented out; one family had trouble in that they contracted Hepatitis whilst on an extended holiday. So, because of the many accusations, the owners asked for the borehole water to be tested; the result was that although the water was “not nice” it didn’t cause the disease.
I will digress here for those that don’t know the difference; a borehole (perforacion in Spanish) is a very deep hole in the ground going far below the start of the water table. About nine inches across they vary from 25 metres to 90 metres deep. They rely on the pressure of water to sustain the flow out to your tap. On the other hand, a “normal well” (pozo artesano) is from two to four metres across, not normally deeper than 20 metres. It relies on having sufficient water in the well for your use, taking hours to refill to the original level before you opened the tap.
So how do you get your water tested, and why should you do so? The “why” is simple; if like me you didn’t even think about the purity of water when you first moved here, and simply showered and cleaned your teeth in it, you might not have thought of how that nice clean looking water came about. Yes rain water seeped through the ground to replenish the water table, but where do you think the water you pour down the plughole goes? It filters through the earth back to your well that’s where. Yes the filtering tends to clean the water but just how clean is it?
So the first thing you need is a sterilised container of about two litres; I bought mine from the farmacia at a cost of 1,90 euros. To fill it you need to run the water from the tap nearest the well for more than enough time to clear the pipe of all water that has stood overnight and actually comes direct from the well. There is space on the container for you to write your name, NIE, telephone number and the date & time it was filled.
Then you immediately take it to the laboratory who will ask you where you live, what sort of well, whether you drink it / cook in it etc. Please don’t leave it lying around allowing germs etc to multiply. The laboratory will ask you for a deposit for the 50 euros the test costs; I left them with 20 euros and returned a week later as requested for the results.
Firstly the report said and the technician was quick to point out – they don’t consider my water potable !!! Since I have drunk it straight from the tap for the last eight years (since Nov 2002) it is obviously not that bad.
The water was salty, most well and borehole water in Pago is salty (not to my taste but it was 261.9 parts per million (ppm). The “norm” tolerance maximum is 250 ppm so not a lot higher; there are parts of Pago where you can taste the saltiness.
The next thing they pointed out was the nitrates; mine at 159.1 ppm was about three times the maximum tolerable limit. And finally my water is hard; no really hard at 260.4 ppm where 200 is the normal limit. Not in pH (7.21) but in calcium particles; that I knew as if I wash my car, it leaves white streaks where the water dries!
They considered the very high level of calcium to be disastrous; but as I said, in England soft water is considered very bad for heart attacks and strokes. The salt level was considered too high to drink and the level of nitrites was also pointed out.
The actual report includes cloro libre residual, olor/sabor, conductividad, reacción pH, cloruros, turbidez, amoniaco, nitritos, nitratos, materia orgánico, dureza and calcio. And that is just the first of the two pages.
For those that want to test their water, the laboratory is located at Calle Estebana Serrano, no.3. To get there walk from the bus station by the old bridge in Chiclana towards Medina. Immediately take the first turning on the left by the side of where the motorbike shop was (Calle Sor Anglea de la Cruz). Then take the second left (Calle Estebana Sorrano) and no. 3 is ten metres down on your left. You have to ring the bell to gain entry but they very friendly.