Water Quality for Well Systems

Your Well Water Health

Millions of homeowners all over the United States rely on water from private or household wells. Over 15 million, to be exact. While the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a set water quality standard for municipal water utilities and other types of water sources, it has no specific regulation on well water. This means that it’s up to each individual consumer to determine for themselves if their well water is safe to drink or if it has become contaminated.

What Could Contaminate My Well Water?

There are a number of contaminants that can be found in drinking water from wells all across the country. Luckily, tests can be run on a sample of your water to detect:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Nitrates
  • Radon
  • Uranium
  • Hydrogen sulfide, and more

Many common water tests look for the presence of a “total coliform” bacteria (a form of bacteria found in human and animal waste) as a litmus test to see if additional testing is needed. This is because some of the most common contaminants are actually from fertilizer, septic systems, sewer lines, and other modes of nitrogen-rich waste. The presence of this type of bacteria also means that the water likely has other forms of bacteria that could be even more harmful.

How Can I Tell if I Need to Check the Water Quality?


According to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) well owners should test the quality of their water annually just to stay safe. However, if any of the following applies to your situation, they recommend that you get the water tested more frequently.

  • If you notice a change in the odor, appearance, or taste of your well water, you should get it tested as soon as you can.
  • If a well cap breaks or a flood hits, it would be in good practice to retest the safety of the water to ensure no unwanted contaminants got through in the meantime.
  • If your septic system is leaking or has experienced frequent failures, you should consider alternative ways of getting your drinking water.
  • If members of your family are having recurrent bouts of gastrointestinal illness, it may be due to impurities in the well This can be especially dangerous if you have an infant or a baby in the family.

How Can I Test My Well’s Water Quality?

Municipal water utilities require an annual water quality report, and well owners should not rest easy just because the law does not require them to test their water. Common water quality tests can be found online, and a number of companies are often willing to come out and do it for you if you have trouble interpreting the results.

Those that aren’t sure about whether or not their well is contaminated would do well to invest in a water filtration system in the meantime that can help you and your family stay healthy until you can get your well water tested.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/
  2. http://www.wellowner.org/water-quality/