An owner of a private well is also a manager of the well. As manager of the well, the homeowner is responsible for making sure that the water is safe to drink and the well is not damaged or compromised. Public water systems are required to regularly test water and meet federally set water quality standards. Private wells are not required to test and meet standards except following installation and at time of sale of the property.
It is important to have a basic understanding of factors affecting well water, what to test for and where to have well water tested. Practices to reduce the risk of contamination of well water are also important to the safety of drinking water.
Many homeowners are unaware of the recommendation to routinely test their private well. A basic series of tests is recommended annually. Other tests should be conducted based on potential sources of contaminants that may affect the well. This would be based on the potential presence of naturally occurring contaminants or those introduced by human activities/land uses.
It is recommended that homeowners use a testing laboratory that is EPA certified to test. The EPA has certified laboratories to assure that the labs have the proper equipment to test for the contaminants that they advertise. Not all environmental laboratories test for everything. It is a good consumer practice to compare two or three labs to determine which best suits the consumer’s needs.
If the water tests indicate that there is a problem, information is available to help the homeowner understand what the problem is and what options are available to address the problem if needed.
There are a number of steps that homeowners can take that can help to protect the quality of water in the private well.
Article by Karen Filchak, Retired Extension Educator