Your Complete Guide to Water Quality Monitoring

Having the correct tools for the task at hand is an integral part in getting the job done, no matter what it is. Water quality monitoring is no different. Utilities need the right equipment to know what’s going on in their water system. Here, we’re going to go through some of the options utilities have when it comes to evaluating water quality monitoring indicators. The very best options are the ones that will fill all of your specific needs, so we’ve got a few different characteristics to go through so that you can find the exact right fit for your water system.

Before we can get into all that, though, we should make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to water quality monitoring — what it means, what we’re looking for, and why each water quality indicator is important.

9 Common Water Quality Indicators

Before we jump into this section, it’s important to keep in mind that the nine water quality indicators on our list are only scratching the surface of what water quality monitoring can entail. Depending on your water system’s specific needs and a variety of other factors, you might need to monitor something that’s not on this list. We’ve narrowed our focus to some of the most common water quality indicators so that we can go more in-depth on each one, explaining the utility of each in some detail.

The main questions we aim to answer for each water quality indicator are as follows:

  1. What is it?
  2. Why is it important to measure it?
  3. How do you measure it?

With that information in hand, utilities can create more targeted water quality monitoring strategies and employ the right equipment to accomplish those goals. 

Chlorine (free, combined, or total)

Adding chlorine is one of the most common forms of water treatment,  When you add chlorine to a water supply, it eliminates harmful microbes and neutralizes contaminants that can cause health issues for consumers. Free chlorine (e.g. sodium hypochlorite) is the most widely used type of chlorine in the United States. Combined chlorine is created when adding ammonia to the free chlorine mixture stabilizing the chlorine residual for a longer time period. Total chlorine is a measure of both free can combined chlorine.

It’s important to select the appropriate chlorine sensor for the type of chlorine your system employs.  


How clear or cloudy water is relates to its turbidity. The clearer the water, the less turbid it is. Turbidity measures the amount of light that material in the water scatters. Materials that can increase water’s turbidity include clay, silt, algae, and microscopic organisms, among others. 

Turbidity is one of the water quality indicators that can still be useful even though it doesn’t point directly toward any specific microbiological or chemical contaminants. It essentially measures how efficient the filtering is. If the turbidity of finished, treated water is above a certain threshold, that can be a warning sign of filter deficiencies or too much debris in the water mains. It can also point toward other potential treatment problems that might introduce pathogens to the distribution system (e.g. biofilm).

This water quality indicator is measured by online turbidimeters, portable turbidimeters, or benchtop turbidimeters. The turbidity of the water can be determined quickly on site, making it one of the more convenient water quality monitoring methods.


Most people are at least passingly familiar with pH values. You probably studied it in science class at one point or another. So, as you likely already know, pH measures how acidic or basic a substance is, and it’s one of the most commonly used water quality indicators. It stands for potential of hydrogen. The scale goes from 0 to 14 — the lower the pH value, the more acidic the water is. A pH value of 7 is neutral. 

The pH value is important to water quality monitoring because changes to it can indicate system contamination. If the regular pH value of a water system has been established and then experiences a decrease in observed pH level, that might be an indicator of undesired bacteria growing within the system. 

What’s more, a water supply with a high pH level can taste bad, while a water supply with a low pH level can even degrade the pipes through which it runs. These are just a few of the reasons water quality monitoring often includes pH level as a main indicator. Utilities can monitor pH on-site, and they can get near-immediate results.


Perhaps this is one indicator that needs no explanation, but we’ll give a brief one anyway: The ability to carry an electrical current. Pure water actually has a very low level of conductivity, but sea water and other forms of water in which different materials are dissolved can have high conductivity. 

Thus, this is one of the water quality indicators that has the potential to raise a red flag about how much dissolved material is in the water. This material might include chemicals (like chlorine), minerals, and even sewage leaks. A sudden change in conductivity can be a sign of a contamination event or a pathway breach within the water distribution system, which are both big problems that need to be addressed. Corrosion within the system can also cause the conductivity measurement to change.

Water conductivity also has a lot to do with the temperature of the water, which is one of the other water quality indicators we’ll discuss in a later section. 

Water conductivity can be measured in the field or in the lab relatively quickly and cheaply. Professionals can use continuous online meters or portable instruments.


Water pressure is another indicator that needs little introduction, if any at all. We’re all familiar with showers that feel more like a trickle than a true stream of water, but changes in pressure can be signs of something much more than an unsatisfying shower. A reduction in pressure can be a possible indicator of a leak or even a water main break, among other bad signs. Plus, sharp changes in pressure can weaken the pipes over time, increasing the risk for cracks and leaks. 

Comprehensive pressure monitoring throughout the entire system is important for those reasons. Utility managers need that depth of data in order to keep their systems in the best shape possible.


To know how much oxidizing potential water has, one has to measure its ORP. It’s difficult to get into this one without giving a full chemistry lesson, so we’ll keep it surface level. ORP stands for oxidation-reduction potential, and it gives utilities a better idea of how effective their sanitizing efforts are. The higher the ORP, the better. ORP can also be used to determine whether bio-film may be forming inside of water pipes (especially if using a combined/chloramines disinfectant) as ORP figures will normally drop.


This water quality indicator is multifaceted. Some water is artificially fluoridated in order to promote dental health. However, fluoride can also occur naturally in water, and consuming too much of it over long periods of time can cause health problems.

Fluoride in drinking water is typically measured either colorimetrically or potentiometrically.


Unlike some of the other water quality indicators on our list, everyone is already well familiar with temperature. It is an important feature for water quality monitoring because when water temperature climbs above 59 degrees Fahrenheit, it has a greater probability of developing harmful microorganisms and biofilms. Temperature also affects other water quality indicators, like dissolved oxygen content, which we cover in the next section.

Although a change in temperature doesn’t point to any one specific type of contaminant, it can still act as a valuable warning sign that something might be wrong within the system.

Measuring temperature is, as you might imagine, fairly simple. It can often be accounted for in an additional sensor added into a water quality monitoring device.

Dissolved O2

All kinds of water supplies need to be monitored for their dissolved oxygen component. In streams and lakes, the amount of dissolved oxygen is one of the factors that dictates how much aquatic life the water can support. But when we’re talking about water distribution systems, we’re mostly looking at dissolved oxygen in a different light. 

One aspect that makes it important to measure is that it affects the taste of drinking water. Generally, water with a higher dissolved oxygen content tastes better than water with a lower dissolved oxygen content. However, utilities also don’t want to raise the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water as much as they possibly can. This is because too much dissolved oxygen can corrode pipes and damage the water system.

There are a few different ways to measure dissolved oxygen in a water supply. You can use electrochemical analysis, photochemical analysis, or chemical analysis. Whichever way you choose to do it, measuring the dissolved oxygen and making sure it stays within a safe range is vital.

Some Water Quality Monitoring Options

In the previous sections, we gave a few examples of the kinds of water quality monitoring devices professionals use to measure each indicator. Here, we’ll discuss those devices in more depth. They can measure different water quality indicators, but the differences run deeper than that. Let’s get into it.

Portable vs Permanent

Some monitors are fixed parts of a water distribution system, while others can be moved around. Take the Eclipse i-Series #9250i, for example, that we make here at Kupferle. It’s made to monitor pressure, and it attaches to any hydrant via a 2-1/2” NST connection. So, you can take it around to different points in a water distribution system and get pressure readings that way. If you want to monitor more than pressure Kupferle also manufactures the Eclipse i-Series #9700i-Solar that can hold up to eight different sensors like the ones listed about to monitor and flush water to keep residuals at safe levels.

However, if portability isn’t the main goal Kupferle manufactures a full line of permanent stations like the  Eclipse i-Series #9800i-Genesis, for example. This permanent intelligent monitoring and flushing station stays in place, but it can also house up to eight different sensors. It will also automatically flush the system when residuals are below the set minimum level and powers itself directly from the water main using an incorporated water turbine and battery bank.

Different Power Sources

Water quality assessment requires power from somewhere. For an eco-friendly option, you might consider solar powered monitors like Kupferle’s Eclipse i-Series #9800i-WC-24LIS-A. As mentioned above, other monitors are constructed with a built-in water turbine to charge their batteries. And of course, there are options with regular lithium-ion batteries that charge by plugging into an outlet (portable) or running 120VAC line power to the station. Pay attention to the power source in the equipment you use to perform water quality tests to make sure they align with your needs and values.

Intelligent Monitoring

Intelligent monitoring devices make it remarkably simple to access the water quality data. In most all instances, they can transmit the water quality data to your mobile device or SCADA. They can also generate water quality reports in the form of preformatted Excel worksheets and graphic displays. That makes it easy to track different water quality indicators.


Like we explained when we talked about the Eclipse #9800i-Genesis, some monitors also flush the system when they detect the levels are below programmed minimums. Instead of scheduling set times to flush aging water out of the distribution system, it’s done automatically and efficiently based on the chlorine residual and/or NTU. Not all monitors have that functionality, though, so it’s definitely something to watch out for if you’re interested in it.

Intelligent Monitoring and Flushing can save water, time, and money because of its precise nature. The water is only flushed when needed, and the exact amount of water to get those residuals back to the correct level is flushed. This can be a huge advantage.

Choose the right water quality monitoring equipment.

Here at Kupferle, we make several different types of water quality monitoring and flushing devices that meet the specifications we outlined in the previous section. Consider our different models of intelligent monitoring and flushing equipment. Many of them can incorporate up to eight different sensors that monitor for the water quality indicators we’ve listed here. That’s one piece of equipment that can handle many different water quality monitoring tasks.

Different water systems have different needs when it comes to water quality monitoring. As such, customizing your equipment to identify specific water quality indicators of concern is always a good call. Consider all of the indicators we’ve listed here as well as your options for equipment, and then choose the right water quality monitoring devices for your system.


Everything You Need to Know about Yard Hydrants

Red yard hydrant in a field of grassBefore right now, you might have never even heard of yard hydrants. They’re not super high on the radar for most people. However, for a specific set of circumstances, they’re a perfect solution.

Here, we’re going to take you through everything you could possibly need to know about yard water hydrants before adding one to your property. We’ll start with basic definitions and situations where yard hydrants are most useful. Then, we’ll move into more detailed topics: What parts a yard water hydrant contains, how to go about selecting one, and whether you want to install them yourself or have a professional do it, among others. The goal is to help you make an informed decision.

If you’re considering adding a yard hydrant to a property you own or manage, then we’ve rounded up all the initial concerns you might have and addressed them here. Let’s jump in.

What is a yard hydrant?

We won’t get very far if we don’t answer this most basic question. What exactly is a yard water hydrant, anyway?

When you hear the word “hydrant,” your first association is probably a fire hydrant, the kind of bright yellow things on street corners. The hydrants we’re talking about here are pretty different from those kinds of hydrants. A yard water hydrant might also be called a water pump, a frost- or freeze less hydrant, or an outdoor hydrant. Basically, it’s a piece of plumbing equipment that gets water to an external place, and it drains itself to ground after you turn it off to prevent freezing in the winter. In the simplest terms, it’s an outdoor faucet.

When you need to get water to a semi-remote location on your property, yard hydrants are a great choice. They come in several different varieties for different purposes, as we’ll explain in more detail later. 

Now, let’s move into the places where you’re most likely to encounter a yard hydrant.

Where are yard hydrants most useful?

You probably don’t see yard hydrants too often if you only frequent urban areas. Yard hydrants can typically be found on farms, campgrounds, horse ranches, parks, and other rural properties, but we’ll go into specifics here shortly. 

Any more remote location where you need to get water without laboriously lugging it from site to site is a good candidate for yard hydrants. If you need water somewhere a hose won’t reach or there’s no spigot nearby, then you need a yard water hydrant. We dive a little deeper into each of these in the following sections.


Farmers have all kinds of water needs. If you need to get water to animals that don’t have a convenient spigot nearby, a yard hydrant is an obvious solution. You can place yard hydrants around the farm at convenient locations for livestock, crops, holding pens, and any other place where water is important to have handy.


Fresh water is a definite must-have at any campsite, for obvious reasons. Since yard hydrants are usually frost-proof, they make for a great choice because they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice. They’re versatile, and there are few limits on where they can be placed. Large campgrounds can definitely benefit from having strategically placed yard hydrants around, making it convenient for everyone to get water.

Golf Courses

Since the grass is pretty much the main draw at any golf course, maintaining it properly is super important. That means lots of watering. A yard water hydrant at the right spots around a golf course can make that huge job a bit easier. Precision is important here, and that’s one reason why yard water hydrants often make a good choice — you have a lot of freedom in where you place them.


These are much the same as campgrounds in many ways. You’ve got a public place where people need access to water. Parks can benefit from yard hydrants both for irrigation purposes and for drinking water (using sanitary yard hydrants), depending on their location. In some cases, they can also be helpful in fire suppression (but they are typically not fire rated like a fire hydrant).


Most residential lots have adequate water access without adding any extra hydrants, but that’s not the case for everyone. Some homeowners with large plots benefit from adding yard hydrants near gardens that need regular watering. Others add one near the driveway so they can have an easier time washing their car. 

Placing a hydrant in your yard means you won’t need super long, hard-to-maneuver hoses, and you’ll have an overall easier time with your chores. 

What are the different components of a yard hydrant?

Generally, there are three main aspects of a yard water hydrant: The standpipe, the head, and the valve.

The standpipe is a vertical pipe that comes out of the ground. The height will vary a bit from model to model, but they typically stand a few feet tall. On top of that is the head of the hydrant. That’s where the outlet for the water is. Some of them are threaded, meaning you can attach a hose, while others are smooth. This is one of the most important features to keep in mind when you’re selecting a yard water hydrant. 

How you operate a yard hydrant can also vary between different models. Some hydrants have a spoked handle that you turn, while others have a long, gripable handle that you raise. The former category tends to be more decorative, while the latter is fairly strictly utilitarian. Different kinds of hydrant heads will dictate how they work.

The final component we’ll mention is inside of the standpipe. This is, of course, the valve. The valve has to sit below the frost line, which means it’s past the point where the ground freezes in the winter. This construction is how the hydrant can function all year long, even in extreme cold, without freezing the pipes.

How do I choose the right hydrant?

You have plenty of options when it comes to yard water hydrants. So, you’ll need some ways to narrow it down. A good place to start would be how decorative you want your yard hydrants to be. Some of them are more utilitarian, while others are designed to be more pleasing to the eye and fit in with a more upscale garden. 

Think about what you really want out of your hydrant and then go from there. Do you just need something that will get the water to where you need it, or will the standard models stick out to you as a bit of an eyesore? 

Then, of course, you want to consider the weather and climate conditions where you live. Most yard hydrants are self-draining, so they’re fit for most places. However, this is something you want to check before making a final decision, especially if you live somewhere that experiences extreme cold.

Another important aspect is what the hydrant is made of. For durability and longevity, you want to avoid cheap plastic construction. These sorts of parts tend to fail more quickly than their metal counterparts. 

Also, make sure your hydrant can be attached to the right kind of hose if that’s something you’re planning on using it for. They come in different sizes, and not all of them have the threading required to screw on a hose. A ¾” GHT (garden hose thread) is usually what most end users will want.

Finally, perhaps the most important consideration of all: Are you planning on using the yard water hydrant for drinking water? If so, you’ll need to find a model specifically designed for potable water. These are called sanitary hydrants and are designed not to drain to ground.

Can I install one myself?

You might want to save money by putting the hydrant in the ground yourself, sidestepping the need for a professional to come out to your property and get the job done. However, unless you’re totally confident in your digging and plumbing skills, it’s better to leave this job to the professionals.

You’ll need to dig deep enough that the pipe leading from the water supply to the hydrant is beneath the frost line. Depending on where you live, that could be a lot of digging. Find out how deep the ground freezes in your area and then make sure you’re willing and able to dig a trench that deep. If not, calling in the professionals to install your yard water hydrants is definitely the way to go. They’ll know exactly how to do it properly. That way, you’ll save yourself some major headaches down the line when the weather gets rough.

How do you maintain a yard hydrant?

Fortunately, yard hydrants do not require very much maintenance. And when they do, it should be fairly easy to service them. This can all be done from above ground — no digging required.

Yard hydrants drain to a level below the frost line, meaning you don’t have to worry about their pipes freezing. This is helpful for climates that experience extreme cold temperatures. Warmer areas don’t have to worry about pipes freezing as much, so this is less of a concern in those places.

While freezing shouldn’t be an issue if your yard water hydrants have been installed properly, there are other problems that might arise and require some work. Your hydrant might begin to leak, for example. In that case, you’ll likely need to replace the seat and/or O-rings on the plunger. Staying on top of leaks is important because it prevents freezing issues. 

So, to sum this all up, you don’t have to do much to maintain a yard hydrant, besides periodically changing the seat and O-rings on the plunger. You should be able to get many years of good use out of them without too many issues, and those can usually be fixed without much headache. The digging only needs to be done once when initially installing the yard hydrant.

Can I do the maintenance myself?

Much like the question as to whether you should have a professional install your yard hydrants to begin with, this one will depend on your comfort level with this kind of work. It’s certainly easier to do most of the typical maintenance or easy fixes than digging deep trenches, though. If you’re moderately handy, you can probably handle most of this on your own. 

Like we already said, you should be able to do basic fixes and maintenance without digging the hydrant up or doing anything too invasive. Most people can take care of it themselves, but you do want to be sure you’re doing the job properly. Check if there are any brand-specific instructions and collect all the tools you’ll need to make sure you have everything. As long as those boxes are ticked, then you should be able to take care of basic maintenance on your own.

How often will I have to replace a yard hydrant?

Regular wear and tear means no hydrant is going to last forever. However, you shouldn’t worry about replacing yard hydrants too often. As we explained in the previous section, you can service your hydrant from above ground if anything needs attention if the yard hydrant you choose has this ability. Digging up the whole thing and replacing it is a much more difficult task and shouldn’t be done unless absolutely necessary. 

It’s impossible to say exactly when that replacement will be unavoidable, but you should be able to count on many years of faithful service from your yard water hydrants. This is especially true if you avoid hydrants with cheap plastic parts and instead opt for durable materials like brass and steel.

Okay, you’ve convinced me. What are my next steps?

Now that you’re fairly confident a yard water hydrant is the right choice for your property, refer back to our section about choosing the right hydrant for your needs. Decide what you want and get looking! There are lots of yard hydrant options on the market. 

Whether you manage a commercial property like a golf course or just want an extra water outlet in your yard back home, these kinds of hydrants could make your life a whole lot easier. As we’ve explained, there are lots of great benefits to adding one of these pieces of equipment to your water system. They’re versatile, frost-proof, and able to meet a wide variety of needs.

You can start by seeing if any of your different yard hydrant options here at Kupferle will fit your needs.