How do I test rainwater to see if it safe to water my garden with it?


If I wanted to use rainwater to water my garden, how do I get my water tested to know if it’s safe?  


Marjorie Peronto, Extension Educator

If you wish to use rainwater on your garden, you should treat it as any other surface water – not safe to drink or to wash produce with, because of potential contamination from bacteria.  (For example, rainwater collected from roofs is likely to contain bird feces residue and other contaminants).  Wash all of your vegetables thoroughly with potable water before consuming them.  To get your rainwater tested for bacterial contaminants, please call Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing lab in Augusta (207.287.1716, toll-free 866.522.4385) or a private lab of your choice to obtain a kit.  See instructions for testing and interpreting the results in this UMaine Cooperative Extension bulletin: Bulletin #7114, Bacteria in Water Supplies Part 1: Problem Bacteria and How to Test for Them.