What’s In Your Water?

Posted: December 22, 2014

Do you rely on a private well for your drinking water? If so, when is the last time you had your water tested? Private water supplies in Pennsylvania are not monitored by any regulatory agency.

This article is a simple reminder that if you live in Pennsylvania and you rely on your own well for drinking water, then it is your responsibility to ensure the quality of that water. In general, you should test your water annually for coliform bacteria and every three years for pH and total dissolved solids. If you are concerned about potential pollutants or if you are experiencing aesthetic problems such as staining, taste, or odor, more extensive testing is warranted.

It is important that all water tests be performed by a water testing laboratory certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). A full list of certified water testing laboratories in Pennsylvania is available from DEP.

Penn State's Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory is accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for drinking water analysis. The goal of Penn State's Drinking Water program is to promote well water testing and to educate home-owners on its importance. To submit a drinking water sample to Penn State’s laboratory, you must first obtain a Drinking Water Test Kit. Kits are available at many county extension offices or may be obtained directly from the laboratory. For more information, contact your county extension office or visit Penn State's Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory water testing webpage.

Penn State Extension is one of the few unbiased, research-based resources to help meet the water needs of Pennsylvania's large, rural population. In 2015, Penn State Extension will offer “Home Water and Septic System” workshops around the state to educate homeowners about safe drinking water and the proper management of their on-lot sewage disposal systems. Find out if there is a workshop scheduled for your area and click on “Courses and Workshops” or contact your county extension office. Also at this website there are links to information on drinking water, water treatment, septic systems and water conservation. This includes fact sheets, webinars and other useful drinking water resources.

A link providing contact information to the Penn State Natural Resources Water Quality Team is also available at the website. The Penn State Natural Resources Water Quality Team are extension educators located around the state and at the university who can be contacted by email or by phone to provide educational assistance with water quality issues.