Testing your Water

Testing your water is a fairly simple task, but it does cost money, so you may want to avoid unnecessary testing. Common reasons for testing are listed below (1).

Private or Public Systems:

Private Systems:

Private water users should test at least yearly for bacteria and other chemicals that may be of interest. Even if your water is safe, yearly testing will enable you to have a record of your water's prior history, so that if a change occurs, you will know. In addition, should anyone damage your water supply, you will have proof of your water quality prior to the damage (2).

Water testing may be done by private testing labs, county and state health laboratories, departments of health, and some local environmental consulting companies (2). Be sure that private testing labs are certified by your state department of health. Additional help may be found by contacting the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. For well owners, the EPA has two publications that may be able to help you out: Citizen Monitoring: Recommendations to Household Well Users (EPA 570/9-90-006, April 1990) and Drinking Water from Household Wells (EPA 570/9-90-013, September 1990). They also provide the phone number in each state where you can call and request a list of certified laboratories (3).

Once you have the results of your testing back, you can then begin treating your water for the various compounds that were detected in your water supply.

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  1. Mel Bromberg and Doug Peterson. "Bottled Water, Crystal Clear Choice, or Cloudy Dilemma?" Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture, University of Illinois, Urbanna-Champaign. June 1994.
  2. National Groundwater Association. 601 Dempsey Road, Westerville, Ohio. 614-898-7791. http://www.h2O-ngwa.org/pubaff/bacq_a.html
  3. EPA - Questions and Answers about Lead and Submersible Well Pumps. April 1994, http://ace.orst.edu/cgi-bin/mfs/01/factsheets/leadpump.quest

This page was prepared by S.L. Keyser, UCD EXTOXNET FAQ Team.
June 1997