How to Read a Water Quality Report

April 09, 2024 4 min read

How to Read a Water Quality Report

Oftentimes, asking questions like “How clean is my water?” or “Is my water safe to drink?” are met with the solution: Test your water. Many people do not realize that their water is being tested annually, and this information is readily available to them. Understanding your water quality report is a simple andup-to-date way of learning what is in your water and if it is safe to drink. 

What is a water quality report?

A water quality report, also known as the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), is a report required by the government for local water systems to send out annually to their consumers (1). This report is availableto homeowners and public well-owners so they are informed on what is in the water they drink.  

How to access your water quality report

If you own a home or public well, your community water system should mail or electronically deliver your CCR each year. For those renting apartments, condos, or other rental properties, you can contact your building manager to get a copy of your CCR. Alternatively, you can search on the EPA’s website tolocate your local community system

What is included in a water quality report?

At first glance, reading your water quality report may seem intimidating. The report includes your water’s initial source (lake, aquifer, etc.), potential contaminants, and their potential health effects in a series of acronyms that make it seem harder to read. Below, we will lay out the acronyms before explaining how to interpret them. For a visual expression of this information, take a look at the Sample CCR found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website (1).  


MCLG: Maximum Contaminant Level Goal. This is the maximum amount of contaminants that can be found in your water without any health risks.

MRDLG: Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal. This is the maximum amount of residuals that can be found in your water without any health risks. This is grouped in the same column as the MCLG (above.)

MCL: Maximum Contaminant Level. This is the maximum amount of contaminants that can be found in your water and still deemed safe to drink. This value is usually the same or higher than the MCLG/MRDLG value in the column next to it. 

TT: Treatment Technique. Grouped with the MCL, this is the process of treating your water to remove contaminants.

MRDL: Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level. Grouped with the MCL and TT, this represents the highest level of disinfectant that can be found in your water. 

Reading your water quality report

All the acronyms above are given values that are compared to the value of a contaminant in your water. If your water scores higher than the acronym values, it will be marked as a violation, or unsafe to drink and in need of intervention. If your water scores are the same or lower than the acronym values, your water is safe to drink by government standards. 

Filtering out contaminants

The report will lay out all types of contaminants, like radioactive and inorganic, which all have different treatment methods. While some contaminants may be safe to drink in small amounts, other contaminants can have negative health defects with even the smallest traces, like lead. With radiological pollutants like lead, it is important you try a filter specializing in these chemicals, like Seychelle’s radiological water pitcher. However, if your water quality report notes that your water is at risk of parasites or bacteria, it is best you try a filter like a hollow fiber straw. These straws are independently lab tested to remove up to 99.999% of bacteria and parasites from your water, making them the obvious choice for these contaminants. 

The Wrap-Up

Everyone has access to understanding what is in their water, if they know where to find it. The Consumer Confidence Report, also known as the water quality report, is sent out annually to inform the public of the water they are consuming each day. By understanding the acronyms and comparing their values to your local water source, you can better understand which contaminants are lurking in your water. From there, you can choose which filter is best suited for your needs. At Seychelle, we can guarantee you we have a filter to fight any contaminants found in your water!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CCR?

CCR stands for Consumer Confidence Report. This report is available annually to the public to report the quality of their water. 

What are good numbers for water quality?

“Good numbers” change based on the contaminant, but generally lower numbers are better. The numbers assigned to your water need to be the same or lower than the maximum contaminant numbers found on the Consumer Confidence Report.

How do you read a well water report?

A well water report is similar to other water quality reports. Compare the suggested numbers to the actual numbers for your water, and as long as your water’s numbers are the same or lower, your water is safe to drink. 


  1. Environmental Protection Agency,