PRIVATE DRINKING WATER FACTS
About three out of 10 Vermont households drink water from private wells.
Private wells for household use are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the State of Vermont, except if you drill a new well.
Types of private drinking water sources include deep bedrock wells, shallow dug wells and groundwater springs.
Private well owners are responsible for testing the quality of their own drinking water and maintaining their own wells.
PUBLIC DRINKING WATER FACTS
Vermont residents that receive a water bill are on public drinking water(link is external). Contact your water service provider if you experience a problem with your water supply or have a complaint. Their phone number should be on the water bill.
All public water systems must conduct water quality monitoring(link is external). Testing must be performed at labs certified by the Health Department Laboratory.
Public water treatment systems are regulated by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation(link is external).
Public water suppliers send an annual Consumer Confidence Report to customers that gives information about the water source and the presence of contaminants (if any).
Water quality can be affected by the plumbing leading to the home and by the type of plumbing and fixtures in the home. If you’re on public water, the Health Department recommends testing your water for lead.
Disinfectants are added to public water to protect public health from microorganisms in drinking water. Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) can form when naturally occurring organic carbon reacts with chemical disinfectants such as chlorine.
PRIVATE DRINKING WATER TESTING RECOMMENDATIONS
It’s important to test your private well or spring for contaminants on a regular basis so you can address any problems with your water supply. The Health Department recommends testing for bacteria (Kit A), inorganic chemicals (Kit C) and gross alpha radiation (Kit RA). The table below gives more detail on each contaminant and how often to test.
Due to COVID-19 testing, the Health Department Laboratory has temporarily suspended drinking water testing. You can still order drinking water test kits from a certified drinking water lab(link is external). You can also order a test for an individual contaminant, such as lead.
There are some contaminants in the table below that are not on a recommended schedule for testing by the Health Department, but can be a concern to those on private and public water
WHAT SHOULD YOU TEST?
If you pay a bill for your water, or your landlord or housing association pays a bill for your water, your water comes from a public water supply. If you have a concern about your public water supply, specific public water supply test results, or would like a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report
Your water utility will know what the pipes are made of from their service line to your meter, but they don’t know what pipes you have inside your home. If you are on public water, test your water for lead and copper to find out if your pipes or fixtures are a source of lead or copper with a first draw test.
Drinking Water Contaminants for Compliance Monitoring: Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, all municipal and other public water supplies must be tested regularly for bacteria, nonorganic chemicals, naturally occurring radioactivity, and naturally occurring compounds. Schools on their own wells are public water supply systems, and are tested routinely.
The Water Supply Rule(link is external) includes a list of contaminants and corresponding contaminant levels. This rule applies to all water systems in Vermont, which include public water systems, bottled water systems, non-public water systems, and privately-owned water sources.
All landowners of single-family residences who install a new groundwater source for drinking water (for example, a drilled well, a new shallow well, a new driven well point, or a new spring), or who deepen an existing groundwater source, are required to test the water before using it.
Learn About Water
Much more than just H2O
Not one drop of the water we consume every day is comprised exclusively of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. It contains some amount of minerals, impurities, microorganisms and other contaminants. These substances may be present in only trace amounts, and don’t necessarily have negative health effects.
The United States enjoys one of the best supplies of drinking water in the world. However, while tap water that meets federal and state standards is generally safe to drink, threats to drinking water are increasing. Actual incidences of drinking water contamination are rare, and typically do not occur at levels likely to pose health concerns. Nevertheless, a wide variety of issues have the potential to contaminate drinking water. Likewise, drinking water that is not properly treated or disinfected, or that travels through an improperly maintained distribution system, may also pose a health risk.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act requires municipalities to test water supplies once, twice, or several times per year, depending on the potential contaminants and the size of the population served. Municipalities don’t continuously monitor the water pipes that transport water to homes. Water that leaves the treatment facility can become contaminated by the time it shows up at your tap.
The EPA defines a community water system as one that provides service to the same recipients, encompassing at least 25 people or 15 households, throughout the entire year. In essence, a CCR tells you where your water comes from and what’s in it. It provides information on the source of the water supplied to your local system and the results of its recent water quality tests. It then compares the test results to the EPA’s health-based standard.
Check for Violations of EPA Regulations
The Safe Drinking Water Information System contains information about public water systems and their violations of EPA’s drinking water regulations. These statutes and accompanying regulations establish maximum contaminant levels, treatment techniques, and monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure that water provided to customers is safe for human consumption.
Private Well Testing
Did you know that if you drink water out of a private water supply, you should test your water source at least once each year and anytime the well is serviced or the water changes in look, smell or taste?
Did you know the contaminants that you should test for can be dependent on where you live in the state? The testing you need will depend on the actual source of your water, the historic and current land use practices, and your specific worries or concerns about your water and your overall health.
Important information for well owners whose wells are in or near flood areas
Never consume water from a well if there is any chance the well has been impacted by flood waters. Contaminated water can cause severe illness. Over the last few weeks, spring snow melt along with heavy rains have caused flooding in many locations across Iowa. Because of this, please be aware that any well in or near flooded areas may be impacted by flood waters.
Floods can cause water quality problems with water supply wells – even if your well isn’t directly in the flooded area. During a flood, the increased groundwater loading nearby a well can cause well contamination. Contaminated surface water can also leak into a well through defects in the well’s casing or physically run over the top of the well and cause direct contamination of the aquifer
The groundwater that supplies your water well can become contaminated through natural processes and human related activities. In addition, Iowa is made up of unique geological settings that can create special construction, maintenance, treatment, and water testing needs.
Drinking Water Quality
If you are one of the 82 percent who get their water from a community water system like a water company, city or town system or shared well (not your own private well), your drinking water is tested regularly and extensively in a manner regulated by the Office of Drinking Water in the state Division of Public Health.
You can also found much more detailed analysis of public water systems on the Drinking Water Watch. This shows detailed test results and is updated as many tests occur. The information provided here is very technical, but there is a glossary to assist with many of the terms.
When testing finds contaminants in a public water system, water users are notified immediately, and told whether any precautions are necessary. Violation reports for the 213 community water systems that provide drinking water to homes, as well as for the hundreds of places like restaurants, convenience stores and other locations that serve water from wells to the public, are released immediately.
Detailed and regularly updated testing and quality information about public water sources — cities and towns, water companies, community systems and also restaurants, schools, convenience stores and other locations that have private wells but make water available to the public. This information is technical, but with a glossary to help explain some of the terms. For a user-friendly annual summary of water quality for the major public water systems, see the Annual Water Quality Reports above.
When testing finds contaminants or other violations of water quality in public water systems, those violations are reported immediately to owners along with any recommended actions, and the notices are also made public.