How can I test the quality of my private drinking water supply?
Consider testing your well for pesticides, organic chemicals, and heavy metals before you use it for the first time. Test private water supplies annually for nitrate and coliform bacteria to detect contamination problems early. Test them more frequently if you suspect a problem. Be aware of activities in your watershed that may affect the water quality of your well, especially if you live in an unsewered area.
Reasons to Test Your Water
The chart below will help you spot problems. The last five problems listed are not an immediate health concern, but they can make your water taste bad, may indicate problems, and could affect your well long term.
Conditions or Nearby Activities: Test for: Recurring gastro-intestinal illness Coliform bacteria Household plumbing contains lead pH, lead, copper Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich Radon Corrosion of pipes, plumbing Corrosion, pH, lead Nearby areas of intensive agriculture Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria Coal or other mining operations nearby Metals, pH, corrosion Gas drilling operations nearby Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station, or dry-cleaning operation nearby Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks Volatile organic compounds Objectionable taste or smell Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry Iron, copper, manganese Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium Scaly residues, soaps don’t lather Hardness Rapid wear of water treatment equipment pH, corrosion Water softener needed to treat hardness Manganese, iron Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored Color, detergents