When Should You Test Your Well Water?

Analyzing water at NEL
The federal government and many state governments (including Massachusetts) do not regulate the testing of private well water. So, the safety of your well water is your responsibility.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection does make recommendations for when you should test you well water, how often, and what tests should be run. However, check with your local Board of Health who may have requirements for testing of new wells as well as guidelines for testing at other times.

In general, it is a good idea to test well water before you buy a house with a private well, after any repairs or upgrades are made to your well, if you notice any changes to your well water taste, smell, or appearance, or if you previously had testing that indicated the water had contaminants above government standard levels.

In addition, well water in good standing should be tested on a yearly basis for bacteria and nitrate and nitrite. Testing for the following contaminants is recommended at least once every ten years: Arsenic, Chloride, Copper, Fluoride, Hardness, Iron, Lead, Manganese, pH, Sodium, VOCs, Radon

For more information:

EPA Drinking Water and Health

What Could Contaminate Your Drinking Water?

image of clean drinking water
If you have a private well, you probably have questions about what could contaminate your water and how you would know. The federal government and many state governments (including Massachusetts) do not regulate the testing of well water. So, the safety of your well water is up to you. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has a helpful website and makes recommendations for when you should test you water, how often, and what tests should be run.

The MA DEP website makes these recommendations for when you should test:

“MassDEP recommends that prospective homebuyers test the water in a home with a private well before purchase. Once you’ve purchased the home, the interval between water quality tests can generally be in terms of years if the well is properly constructed and located in a safe area. However, the following conditions would prompt more frequent testing:

  • Heavily developed areas with land uses that handle hazardous chemicals.
  • Recent well construction activities or repairs. MassDEP recommends taking a bacterial test after any well repair or pump or plumbing modification, but only after disinfection and substantial flushing of the water system.
  • Contaminant concentrations above state or federal standards found in earlier testing.
  • Noticeable variations in quality like a water quality change after a heavy rain, extended drought, or an unexplained change in a previously trouble-free well (i.e. funny taste, cloudy appearance, etc.).

“When taking any sample, MassDEP recommends that it be taken after a heavy rainstorm. These events tend to highlight conditions of improper well construction or poor soil filtration.”

Northeast Environmental Laboratory, Inc. recommends testing well water without any known problems on a yearly basis for bacteria, nitrate, and nitrite. In addition, testing for a more comprehensive list of contaminants at least once every ten years:

Contact NEL, Inc. if you have any questions or to schedule testing.

For more information:

General Information About Coliform Bacteria in Your Water
When Should You Test Your Drinking Water?
EPA Drinking Water and Health