Water Quality Testing – Laboratory Services

Ecological water sampling

Water quality is essential to many different industries and activities in Australia. Our specialists (based in Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne) assess the health of the water and carry out regular tests to determine and maintain its quality, in order to ensure successful production and the sustenance of flora and fauna life.

ADE’s Water Testing Capabilities

ADE partners with ISO 17025 NATA accredited laboratories to provide high quality analytical testing services for water quality assessments.

Water samples collected by ADE consultants are taken to ADE’s Sydney Laboratory Services, NATA accredited for the majority of chemical tests commonly required for water quality assessments.

Commonly conducted water quality tests include:

Temperature testing

Testing the temperature helps determine the rate of biochemical reaction in an aquatic environment and indeed whether they are able to occur at all. If the water temperature is too elevated, this can limit the water’s ability to hold oxygen and decrease organisms’ capacity to resist particular pollutants.

pH testing

Measures the acidity of water. Most aquatic organisms are only able to survive within a pH range of 6 to 8.

Chloride test

Chloride is usually present in fresh and salt water. However, its levels can be exacerbated as a result of minerals dissolving and industrial pollution

Salinity testing

Measures the total of all non-carbonate salts dissolved in water. Measuring groundwater salinity indicates how salty your topsoil may become if the watertable rises.

Dissolved Oxygen Test

Measures the amount of oxygen dissolved in water. Without this, aquatic life is unable to conduct cellular respiration and is thus a key indicator of water health.

Turbidity test

Measures the amount of particulate matter that is suspended in the water, or more simply, how clear the water is. If high levels of turbidity are present, photosynthesis is affected as light is unable to penetrate, increasing water temperature.

Nitrate and Phosphate

The presence of these essential nutrients is a good indicator of strong plant life. However, the addition of artificial nitrates and phosphates through detergents, fertilisers or sewage can be harmful and result in eutrophication, generally in the form of unwanted algal blooms.


We measure whether any pesticides are present and their concentration levels.


The measurement of the reduction-oxidisation potential of a solution, which indicates the electron activity. Micro-organism growth is highly dependent on these levels.

Electrical conductivity

Estimates the total amount of solids dissolved in the water. This can be a good indicator of the level of salinity.


Testing that indicates the presence of a suite of metals which are not naturally occurring in water. Heavy metals (Aluminium, Antimony, Arsenic, Beryllium, Bismuth, Copper, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Uranium, Tin, Vanadium and Zinc) can find their way into water bodies through natural processes or human activities such as mining, processing of minerals, use of metals as containers and transportation through metallic pipelines. Heavy metals are known to harm kidneys, liver, nervous system and bone structure.

Lead poisoning in humans can cause problems in synthesis of haemoglobin, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, joints and reproductive systems and acute or chronic damage to the nervous system. Lead can also cause osteoporosis and weaken bones because it starts replacing Calcium in the bones.

Long-term exposure of cadmium leads to renal dysfunction. High exposure can least to lung cancer and osteodystrophy. Nickel has numerous reported mechanisms of toxicity including redox – cycling and inhibition of DNA repair as well as exhibiting allergic effects.

Exposure to mercury can lead to tremors, gingivitis and other psychological changes with spontaneous absorption and congenital malformation. Mono methyl mercury causes damage to the brain and the central nervous system, congenital malformations and development changes in young children. Vanadium has toxic effects on the liver, kidney, nervous and cardiovascular systems and blood forming organs.

Other tests

Petroleum hydrocarbons (TRH), Monocyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (BTEX) and Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs, including benzo (a) pyrene)

The state of the water can change frequently as a result of:

  • Soil entering the water through events such as erosion, land clearing and overgrazing.
  • Chemicals entering the water through fertilisers, pesticides and leeching
  • Pollution entering the water from the refuse of factories, sewage systems, mines and service stations
  • Rubbish disposal (both small scale and from landfill)

Regular water testing can be helpful over a long period of time to monitor any changes that occur in water quality. If this occurs, it is essential that the monitoring occurs at fixed intervals from the same point. However, it can also be a good idea to conduct water testing in response to an unexpected event such as a chemical spill.

Our Standards & Guidelines

All laboratory work and reporting is done in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017 – General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. Other relevant standards applicable specifically to water quality monitoring include:

  • NEPM Groundwater Investigation Levels, National Environment Protection Measure 1999, Schedule B(1);
  • Circular on Target Values and Intervention Values for soil remediation, Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, Netherlands 2000;
  • Australian and New Zealand Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters, 2000, (ANZECC);
  • Australian drinking water guidelines, National Health and Medical Research Council, 2004 (NHMRC); and
  • Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Groundwater Contamination, NSW DEC 2006.


Andrew Mitchell

Business Unit Manager – Environmental Services (NSW)

0437 834 489


Matthew askeland

PFAS Specialist (VIC)

0452 377 551