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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.

Private Drinking Well's LogoIf 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 (downing.jane@epa.gov) (617) 918-1571 for further information about these efforts.

Diagram depicting a private well. Courtesy of American Ground Water Trust and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services-copyrighted materia

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:

Connecticut:

Maine:

Massachusetts:

New Hampshire:

Rhode Island:

Vermont:

Real 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.

Additional Sources of Information

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