Identify the (current) sources of water that supply both the hot water service(s) and cold water taps. Be mindful that different sources may be used for different cycles of the wash. For example, bore water may be used for the pre-rinse cycle and rain water used for all other cycles.
Hardness can vary between sources and from the same source at different times of the year. If the water is found to be hard, then commercially available water softening systems should be incorporated, if an alternate better quality water supply is unavailable. Water used in a dairy may come from very different sources. When designing a dairy wash program, it is prudent to assume that the water, regardless of its source, may have microbes present. Only the water from the hot water cylinder (if it is working correctly i.e. > 90 ºC) should be considered microbe free.
Water Quality Results
Unlike many other dairying countries, water quality poses the greatest challenge to cleaning in Australia. It is generally poor and can be highly variable, even from the same source. The best quality water should be used for cleaning the milking machine and milk vat. It should be potable water – suitable for human consumption. Two commonly used indicators of water quality are hardness content and microbial contamination. Suspended solids, organic matter, chemicals, and odours are other indicators of water quality.
A specialised water test kit is required to determine qualities such as iron and hardness. Dairy chemical representatives are usually the best starting point to working out which type of water test kit is most appropriate for assessing dairy farm water and cleaning solutions.
Often, the best place to sample water for quality testing is from the hot water service.