Individual Water Supply Wells - Fact Sheet #3
"Recommended Residential Water Quality Testing" is available in Portable Document Format (PDF, 43KB, 2pgs.).
Recommended Residential Water Quality Testing
Water quality testing is important for new drinking water wells in addition to periodic evaluation of existing wells. The table below lists the recommended testing parameters for new individual residential water supply wells. These tests should be performed following proper well installation and development, and prior to homeowner use. Beyond these initial tests it is recommended to test for coliform bacteria every year and to periodically re-test water quality for other well-specific constituents of concern.
All samples should be analyzed by a laboratory certified by the NYSDOH Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) for testing potable water. A current listing of ELAP laboratories may be accessed at http://www.wadsworth.org/labcert/elap/elap.html or by contacting your Local Health Department (LHD).
|Analysis *||Recommended MCL(1)(2)||Concerns|
|Coliform Bacteria||Any positive result is unsatisfactory||Indicator of possible disease causing contamination, e.g. Gastro-intestinal illness|
|Lead||0.015 mg/l||Brain, nerve and kidney damage (especially in children)|
|Nitrate||10 mg/l as N||Methemoglobinemia ("blue baby syndrome")|
|Nitrite||1 mg/l as N||Methemoglobinemia ("blue baby syndrome")|
|Iron||0.3 mg/l||Rust-colored staining of fixtures or clothes|
|Manganese||0.3 mg/l||Black staining of fixtures or clothes|
|Iron plus manganese||0.5 mg/l||Rusty or black staining of fixtures or clothes|
|Sodium||No designated limit(3)||Effects on individuals with high blood pressure|
|pH||No designated limit||Pipe corrosion (lead and copper), metallic-bitter taste|
|Hardness||No designated limit||Mineral and soap deposits, detergents are less effective|
|Alkalinity||No designated limit||Inhibits chlorine effectiveness, metallic-bitter taste|
|Turbidity||5 NTU||Cloudy, "piggybacking" of contaminants, interferes with chlorine and UV-light disinfection|
*Individual Residential Well Water Supply Quality Testing/HUD Mortgage Requirements (July 27,1995)
Additional tests are recommended for naturally occurring constituents that appear on a regional basis such as: arsenic, barium, fluoride, methane, radium, radon, and uranium. Additional tests may also be appropriate for contaminants associated with potential sources such as: oil storage facilities, junkyards, gasoline stations, landfills, industry, and active or historic agricultural use. Water samples from older existing residences or residences with corrosive water (i.e., pH less than 6.5) should be tested for lead and copper.
Some LHD's may have their own residential water quality testing requirements. Contact the LHD to determine their required analyses and procedures, and to inquire about any local water quality concerns.
The table below, Reasons to test your Water, is based upon the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) publication: "Drinking Water From Household Wells", January 2002.
This table may also be used as a reference for determining additional testing.
|Conditions or Nearby Activities:||Test for:|
|Recurring gastro-intestinal illness1||Coliform bacteria, e-coli|
|Household plumbing contains lead (older homes)||pH, lead, copper|
|Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich||Radon|
|Corrosion of pipes, plumbing||pH, lead, copper|
|Nearby areas of intensive agriculture||Nitrate, pesticides, arsenic, coliform bacteria|
|Coal or other mining operations nearby||Metals, pH|
|Gas drilling operations nearby||Sodium, chloride, 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, pH, metals|
|Stained plumbing fixtures, toilet tanks or laundry||Iron, copper, manganese, hardness|
|Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby||Sodium, chloride, total dissolved solids|
|Scaly residues, soaps don't lather||Hardness|
|Rapid wear of water treatment equipment||pH|
|Water softener needed to treat hardness||Hardness, manganese, iron|
|Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored||Color, detergents, turbidity, total dissolved solids|
|Reddish-brown films on fixtures or toilet tanks||Iron bacteria, iron, manganese|
1 Individuals with symptoms of gastro-intestinal illness should seek the attention of a medical physician.
|Sampling and Treatment|
Other sources of information that may be helpful:
- American Groundwater Trust
- American Water Works Association
- Water Systems Council
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
- New York Rural Water Association
For questions concerning this Fact Sheet or a copy of Appendix 5-B: contact