Private Wells: Protect Your Family's Water

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flooded street, child with water, private well cover

If your water comes from a private well, germs and chemicals can enter your drinking water from flooding and extreme weather, runoff, and natural changes in the water that serves your well. The use of contaminated water for drinking, preparing food, and making ice can make you, your family, and your pets sick. Babies, children, pregnant people, older adults, and people with health conditions are most at risk of health effects from consuming contaminated water.

Quick Links

Test Your Well

Test at least once a year for bacteria and for other contaminants every 3-5 years.

Restore Your Well

Know how to test, assess, repair, and disinfect your private well.

Private Well Risk Mapper

Use the risk mapper to understand the physical environment that surrounds your private well.

Tips to Protect Your Family's Water

  • Test your well water at least once a year for bacteria and for other contaminants every 3-5 years.
  • Test your water for E. coli and coliform bacteria after you disinfect and flush your well, or perform maintenance on your system to make sure problems are addressed.
  • Regularly check and maintain the well, system components, and area surrounding the well.
  • Test your water if you notice changes in how your water looks, smells, or tastes, after floods, changes in land use, or concerns about local contaminants.
  • If you suspect your well could be contaminated by gasoline, heating oil, or chemicals, contact your health department and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Spill Hotline at (800) 457-7362.
  • Keep records of maintenance activities and water testing.
  • Contact your health department for advice on maintaining, testing, disinfecting, and flushing your well.
  • Take steps to get connected to a public water system, if you have the opportunity. Public water is the best option for household water because it is regularly monitored and managed by a certified water operator.

Contaminants in Your Water?

Stop using your water and use bottled water for drinking, preparing food, or making ice if water tests show contaminants in your well water or if you suspect your well could be contaminated.

Follow these steps from Restoring Your Private Well:

  • Check the well and area around the well for damage.
  • Repair and flush your well.
  • Disinfect your well water to address biological contamination.
  • Test your water to assure suitable quality for all household uses.
  • Contact your area health department for help.

If you suspect your well could be contaminated by gasoline, heating oil immediately contact your area health department and the DEC Spill Hotline at (800)457-7362. Resume using your water after contamination is addressed and water tests confirm your water is suitable for household uses.