Water Wells and Testing

Properly constructed private water supply systems require little routine maintenance. There are simple steps to help protect your system and investment:

  • Always use licensed or certified water well drillers and pump installers when a well is constructed, a pump is installed or the system is serviced.
  • Annual well maintenance should be performed to check for mechanical problems, cleanliness, and the presence of certain contaminants. Any source of drinking water should be checked when there is a change in taste, odor or appearance and anytime a water supply system is serviced.
  • Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well.
  • Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair.
  • Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems or chemical storage facilities.
  • Don’t allow back-siphonage. When mixing pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals, don’t put the hose inside the tank or container.
  • When landscaping, keep the top of your well at least one foot above the ground. Slope the ground away from your well for proper drainage.
  • Take care in working or mowing around your well. A damaged casing could jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. Don’t allow for piled snow, leaves or other debris around your well.
  • Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, as well as annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.
  • Be aware of changes in your well, the area around your well, or the water it provides.
  • When your well has come to the end of its serviceable life (usually more than 20 years), have your qualified water well contractor properly decommission your well after constructing your new system.

NH Dept of Environmental Services offers guidelines for private well testing.

Water is the universal solvent and it has the capability of dissolving just about anything. Because of it’s unique properties, water can easily become contaminated. Serious contaminates such as lead and E. Coli bacteria may be toxins that could affect your family’s health.  Unhealthy levels of contaminants are common in many private wells in New Hampshire. Some of these contaminants have been linked to cancer and other diseases. Most have no taste, smell or color. It is important to periodically test well water to ensure it is safe to drink.

    When doing a water test, there are four major testing categories:
  • Inorganic — minerals and physical properties
  • Organic — petroleum products, gasoline, fuel oil and solvents
  • Microbiology — coliform and other bacteria
  • Radiology — radon gas options

Standard water tests cover the most common contaminants — arsenic, bacteria, chloride, copper, fluoride, hardness, iron, lead, manganese, nitrate/nitrite, pH, sodium and uranium. Some of these pose health concerns while others only affect taste and/or smell. Tests for pesticides, herbicides or other synthetic organic compounds (SOCs) may be a good idea if your water has elevated nitrite or nitrate concentrations, or if significant amounts of pesticide have been applied near your well.

Comprehensive water tests include all four testing categories and is good way to start. It is a powerful tool in detecting contaminants commonly found in surface and deep well waters. If you are suspicious of pesticides or herbicides, a comprehensive test may indicate those left off of standard water test.

NH Dept of Health & Human Services has a Water Analysis Laboratory to assist with homeowner water testing.