Total Solids

Definition - What does Total Solids mean?

Total solids is a measure of total dissolved solids (TDS) and total suspended solids (TSS) in water. It is generally measured in mg/L. Total solids also affects water clarity.

The total solids value is used to assess the reuse potential of wastewater and to determine the most suitable type of treatment process.

Corrosionpedia explains Total Solids

Total solids equals dissolved solids plus suspended and settleable solids in water. Suspended solids are those that can be retained on a water filter and are capable of settling out of the water column onto the stream bottom when stream velocities are low. Dissolved solids are those that pass through a water filter.

Total solids measurements can be useful as an indicator of the effects of runoff from:

  • Construction
  • Agricultural practices
  • Logging activities
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Industrial plants

A high concentration of total solids makes drinking water unpalatable and might have adverse effects on people who are not used to drinking such water. Levels of total solids that are too high or too low can also reduce the efficiency of wastewater treatment plants, as well as the operation of industrial processes that use raw water.

Total solids can vary widely depending on weather. Recent rainfall or snowmelt events can greatly increase total solids. If there has not been a recent rain or snow event, readings of greater than 100mg/L might be cause for more investigation.

An excess of total solids in rivers and streams is a very common problem. Regular monitoring of total solids can help detect trends that might indicate increasing erosion in developing watersheds. Total solids are closely related to stream flow and velocity, and should be correlated with these factors. Any change in total solids over time should be measured at the same site and the same flow.

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