Water quality guidelines

1dd/Sm=1mS/cm=1000mS/cm=600mg/l=600ppm

EC Range (mS/cm)

Usefulness of water

0-800

  • Good drinking water for humans (provided there is no organic pollution and not too much suspended clay material)
  • Generally good for irrigation, though above 300mS/cm, some care must be taken, particularly with overhead sprinklers which may cause leaf scorch on some salt sensitive plants
  • Suitable for all livestock

800-2,500

  • Can be consumed by humans although most would prefer water in the lower half of this range if possible
  • When used for irrigation, requires special management including suitable soils, good drainage and consideration of salt tolerance of plants
  • Suitable for all livestock

2,500-10,000

  • Not recommended for human consumption, although water up to 3000mS/cm could be drunk if nothing else was available
  • Not normally suitable for irrigation, though water up to 6000mS/cm can be used on very salt tolerant crops with special management techniques. Over 6000mS/cm, occasional emergency irrigation may be possible with care, or if sufficient low salinity water is available, this could be mixed with the high salinity water to obtain an acceptable supply
  • When used for drinking by poultry and pigs, the salinity should be limited to about 6000mS/cm. Most other stock can use dup to 10,000mS/cm
  • High magnesium may be present in water of this salinity level and above causing stock health problems. It is recommended that a water analysis is conducted to check.

10,000 and above

  • Not suitable for human consumption or irrigation
  • Not suitable for pigs, poultry or any lactating animals. Beef cattle can use water up to 17,000mS/cm and adult dry sheep can tolerate 23,000mS/cm. However it is possible that waters below these EC levels could contain unacceptable concentrations of particular ions. Detailed chemical analysis should therefore be considered before using high salinity water for stock.
  • Water up to 50,000mS/cm can be used to flush toilets provided corrosion in the cistern can be controlled.

Stock - Salinity tolerance levels

Limits for drinking water

 

 

 

EC (mS/cm)

Mg/L (ppm)

Poultry

Production decline begins

3,100

2,000

Maximum

6,250

4,000

Pigs

Production decline begins

3,100

2,000

Maximum

6,250

4,000

Horses

Health/growth affected

6,250

4,000

Maximum

10,900

7,000

Dairy cattle

Production decline begins

4,700

3,000

Maximum

9,300

6,000

Beef cattle

Production decline begins

6,250

4,000

Maximum

15,600

10,000

Lactating ewes, weaners

Production decline begins

6,000

3,800

Maximum

10,000

6,400

Sheep, dry feed

Production decline begins

9,300

6,000

Maximum

21,800

14,000

Production decline begins: desirable maximum salt concentration for healthy growth
Maximum: Maximum salt concentration that may be safe for limited periods


Fruit, vegetables, flowers
Salinity tolerance levels

0-800EC (mS/cm)
(0-500mg/L(ppm))

800-2,300EC (mS/cm)
(500-1,500mg/L(ppm))

2,300-5,500EC (mS/cm)
(1,500-3,500mg/L(ppm))

Avoid wetting leaves on hot, dry days

Avoid light, frequent watering and wetting leaves during daytime

Avoid wetting leaves
Adequate leaching necessary

Fruit

Passionfruit
Strawberry
Apricot
Peach
Plum
Grape
Grapefruit
Orange
Lemon

Mulberry
Apple
Pear
Raspberry
Quince

Olive
Fig
Canteloupe

Vegetables

Lettuce
Green beans/peas
Carrot
Celery
Onion
Radish
Sweet corn
Potatoes

Cabbage
Cauliflower
Brocolli
Broad beans
Tomato
Sweet potato

Spinach
Asparagus

Flowers

 

 

Violet
Primula
Dahlia
Begonia
Azalea
Camellia
Magnolia
Fuchsia

Rose
Gladiolus
Aster
Geranium
Zinnia

Stock
Chrysanthemum
Carnation
Hibiscus
Oleander
Bamboo