Should I have my well tested?  Yes. According to the EPA, Over 15 million U.S. households (approximately 15 percent of Americans) rely on private water wells for drinking water. Private water wells should be protected from contamination.  Most states have rules for private wells, and as a private well owner, it is up to you to make sure that your water is safe to drink.

When should I have my well tested? Check your well every year to make sure there are no mechanical problems. Test the water once a year for the presence of coliform bacteria.  The water should be tested once every three years for harmful chemicals. You should also have your well tested if: There are known problems with well water in your area, you have experienced problems near your well (i.e., flooding, land disturbances and nearby waste disposal sites) or you replace or repair any part of your well system.

Am I legally required to test my drinking water? Yes, during real estate transactions. Oregon law requires the seller of real estate to have well water tested for total coliform bacteria, nitrate and arsenic. See “Real Estate Transaction.”

Should I consider additional testing? Yes. The coliform bacteria, nitrate and arsenic tests are the bare minimum required by the state. There are numerous trace metals, volatile organic compounds, nutrients and other physical parameters that can adversely affect the health of your water.

What additional tests should I request? Our knowledgeable staff can help you make this decision. But first, find out a little about the history of your well and neighboring properties. You should know: What is your well depth, its age, and condition? How far is it between your well and your septic system? Is there any nearby agricultural or industrial activity? Has there been illegal dumping or landfills near your property?

How do I find out if my well is contaminated? You have to test it. Neilson Research Corporation can analyze your water and test for bacteria and harmful chemicals. In some states, the drilling contractor must test a new well after it is built. However, as a well owner it is up to you to maintain your well and have it tested regularly.

How do bacteria and chemicals get into my well water? Some bacterial and chemicals occur naturally. For example, heavy metals like arsenic and sodium are found in rocks and soil and can seep into ground water. Other contaminants come from human and animal waste, polluted storm water runoff, agricultural runoff, flooded sewers or individual septic systems that are not working properly.

My well water has a funny smell or taste; should I worry about getting sick? A change in your water’s taste, color, or smell could be a sign of serious contamination problems. Any time you notice a change in your water quality, you should have it tested.