Drinking Water in New England
Private Well Owners
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About 2.3 million people (about 20% of the total population) in New England obtain water from their own private well. Recent studies in New England identified contamination of some private wells from methyl-tertiary-butyl ether (MtBE (PDF) (6 pp, 385 K)), radon and arsenic. But, many homeowners are not aware of this risk to their drinking water.
If you have a private well, regular water quality testing is very important. Many contaminants cannot be identified by taste or odor, making it difficult for homeowners to know if the water quality of their well has changed. EPA does not regulate private wells and many states and towns do not require periodic sampling of private wells after they are initially installed. This makes it the responsibility of homeowners to periodically test their well for contamination. Read the state specific pdf version of EPA New England's Private Well brochure: Connecticut (PDF) (2 pp, 170 K), Maine (PDF) (4 pp, 316 K), Massachusetts (PDF) (2 pp, 39 K), New Hampshire (PDF) (2 pp, 197 K), Rhode Island (PDF) (2 pp, 131 K).
EPA New England has a new campaign to get the word out to homeowners about the importance of taking precautions to protect, maintain and test their private well. The campaign will reach the general public, the real estate community, schools, local officials, and trade associations, such as well drillers.
To reach private well users EPA is partnering with New England State Drinking Water Programs and State University Cooperative Extension Services to get the word out about well testing, protection and maintenance. EPA will be supporting Cooperative Extension water quality experts to update homeowner fact sheets about drinking, water testing, contaminants, and treatment methods. Children's activities and other outreach materials will also be developed and shared with schools and other organizations.
To assist real estate agents and property buyers - EPA New England has developed a brochure on private wells to advise you on well water quality and the operation of private well water systems. This brochure (listed below) includes contacts to seek for advice on testing and treatment recommendations as well as information about qualified professionals.
Website links to homeowner information developed by your state agencies, cooperative extension program are found below. Contact Jane Downing (firstname.lastname@example.org) (617) 918-1571 for further information about these efforts.
Learn about EPA's national recommendations on how to test the quality of a private drinking water supply and prevent contamination from affecting it.
New England State Private Well Guidance Available On-line
- EPA's National Recommendations for Private Well Testing and Protection
- Drinking Water Contaminants
- Private Wells-Guidance for What to Do After the Flood
- MtBE in Drinking Water
- New England Contamination/Waste Sites
- CT brochure on water quality testing (PDF) (2 pp, 202 K)
- Connecticut Cooperative Extension-Nonpoint Source Education for Municipal Officials
- Maine Private Well Testing Brochure (PDF) (4 pp, 338 K)
- Maine State Agencies - Information on Private Well Water Safety
- University of Maine-Cooperative Extension
- Maine: Private Wells - Information for Homeowners
- Maine Water Testing Info
- MA brochure on water quality testing (PDF) (2 pp, 30 K)
- University of Massachusetts-Cooperative Extension
- Massachusetts: Private Well Testing and Model Board of Health Regulation
- Well Drillers Information
- Licensed Home Inspectors
- NH brochure on water quality testing (PDF) (2 pp, 197 K)
- New Hampshire: Private Well Testing Program
- University of New Hampshire - Cooperative Extension
- RI brochure on water quality testing (PDF) (2 pp, 148 K)
- Rhode Island Private Well Factsheets
- Rhode Island Cooperative Extension
- Rhode Island Water Resources Board
Estate Buyer and Seller Information: "What
Every Realtor Should Know About Private Drinking Water
Wells" (PDF) (16
pp, 1.1 MB) Brochure
explains how to check for water quality problems, correct
any treatment problems and avoid delays in selling
or buying real estate.