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Complete guide to potable water testing

Oct 19, 2016


Safe, clean drinking water is a legal requirement on board vessels, as covered by the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Owners and operators of vessels need to be aware that a potable water test kit should be a must. To put it simply, falling foul of such regulations is not an option.

It’s vital for drinking water to be tested on a regular basis, because failure to do this can result in a number of highly dangerous conditions, including E.coli, cholera and typhus. The after-effects of such a situation on crew members, passengers, contractors and visitors are too damaging to even consider.

How can potable water become contaminated?

On board ship, there are many ways in which drinking water supplies can become a victim of contamination. They include the following:

  • Poor quality tanks and pipes
  • Contaminated water being brought aboard
  • Cross-connection of drinking and non-drinking water supplies
  • Insufficient disinfection
  • Inappropriate loading procedures
  • The lack of a structured testing regime

This latter aspect can be avoided simply by the purchase and utilisation of a potable water test kit. Testing is a simple process, whether you do so with a stand-alone unit or via an integrated system that includes laboratory analysis. The important thing is that the water you supply is clean and safe for all users throughout the voyage.

How to react if the test reveals problems

If your potable water test kit indicates that the water is unsafe for use, the priority has to be to remedy the situation as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The water will need to be treated, which will usually entail emptying the tanks, cleaning the insides and then refilling with fresh, clean water.

The addition of chlorine to water is an accepted method of preventing contamination, and it should be pointed out that most water supplies at ports around the world will include a certain amount of chlorine already. It’s vital for operators to know just how high these levels are, because they can add more should it be deemed necessary.

If you’re an owner or operator of anything from a single small fishing boat to a fleet of high end cargo vessels, you need to be fully aware of your responsibilities in regard to drinking water. There is a great deal of legislation in various parts of the world that pertain to drinking water safety, so a good quality potable water test kit is essential.


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