Drinking Water Testing Program
should you test your drinking water?
There are over 1 million
private wells in Pennsylvania serving 3.5 million people in rural areas.
Approximately 20,000 new wells are drilled each year. About half of the
private water wells that have been tested in the state have at least one water
quality problem. Yet, despite the importance of testing your water, only
half of Pennsylvania wells have ever been tested. The
goal of Penn State's Drinking Water program is
to promote well water testing and to educate home-owners on its
importance. Penn State's Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory is
accredited by the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection for drinking
water analysis. In addition to the Penn
State laboratory, there are private laboratories in the state that perform
water testing. A list of these labs may be found on the
DEP Laboratory Accreditation Program web site.
should you test for?
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
Pollutants that enter wells can often be linked to activities on the land
surface such as mining, agriculture, or industry.
If you have one of these activities within sight of your home, you may
wish to select a drinking water test package based on pollutants most commonly found in
association with each activity.
Or, if you have concerns about the potential contamination of your well
from a near-by septic system, the Agriculture/Septic test package is
Finally, if you are experiencing aesthetic problems, you may want to test
for the components that are primarily responsible for these (see Aesthetics
Packages). Individual drinking
water analyses are also available.
EPA Home Water Testing
do you submit a water sample? 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
cooperative extension offices or may be obtained directly from the
laboratory. The kit consists
of a shipping box, sample bottles, instructions on how to take a sample, and a
submission form. After taking your
water sample, you must send the kit to the laboratory by overnight mail along
with your payment for the test(s) requested.
For the bacteria test, included in all test packages, the laboratory must
receive the sample within 30 hours after sampling.
soon will you get your results? In
general, tests are complete within two weeks after sample receipt by the
laboratory. With mailing time, you
should receive your report within two to three weeks after sending your sample.