A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day.
Importance of Private Water Testing

Private well owners are responsible for making sure their well water is safe to drink.  Private drinking water wells are not required to be tested on a routine basis as are public water supplies.  Many substances that can be found in well water and that can affect drinking water quality have no taste, color, or smell.  The only way to know if they are present is to have the water tested each year.

Why test? Because no one else will.

Regular testing:

  • Helps to protect you and your family’s health.
  • Protects the financial investment you have in your home.
  • In addition to yearly testing, as a private well owner you should have your drinking water tested whenever:

  • You notice a change in the taste, smell, or color of your water
  • Before buying or selling a home with a private well
  • Before installing any type of water treatment system
  • Because of differences in water quality throughout New England, it is best to check with your drinking water agency or local health department for information to help you determine what to test for, as there may be local pollution issues that influence your drinking water quality.  The websites listed below contain suggested tests for private drinking water wells. 

    Where to test?

    Private well owners should have the water tested each year at a laboratory that has been “approved” by your state . This “approval” may come in the form of a license, certification, accreditation, or approval, (each New England state refers to it in a different way)It is important that you have your water tested at a state approved lab, as these labs are following accepted procedures for testing your water.  For more information on these labs, see:

    How do I interpret the drinking water test results?

    After your water has been tested at a state licensed laboratory, you will receive the test results in the mail.

    Each laboratory report looks different. However, for each substance that was tested, the amount of that substance found in the water sample should be reported. You can compare the amount detected in your water sample with the standard that is set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) for public water supplies. Often times, the lab report will list the standard for each substance tested on the report. For more information on water quality standards, see the factsheet drinking water standards and visit EPA’s website.

    Most substances in water are measured and reported as a concentration. Depending on the substance, the results will be reported as:

    Part per million (ppm) = milligram per liter of water = mg/L
    Part per billion (ppb) = microgram per liter of water = ug/L

    In addition, the lab will often report the minimum detection limit for each substance tested. This is the minimum amount of a particular substance that can be detected in the sample using the equipment and testing procedures that the lab follows.

    For more information on a particular substance of concern, see the factsheet series

    The important part about interpreting your test results is whether or not the substance is considered a health threat at the particular concentration found in your water sample. Compare your water test results to EPA’s standards and consult the factsheets mentioned above. For help interpreting your test results, contact your state or local drinking water agency, or Cooperative Extension.