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Water Quality

The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, having a safe water supply does not mean that there are no impurities in your water. In nature, all water contains impurities, and there is no such thing as naturally pure water. Some of the impurities found in water are harmless while others must be removed in order to ensure the safety of water. People in larger cities often obtain their water from surface waters (lakes, reservoirs, and rivers) accessed by public water suppliers. In rural areas, people are more likely to use ground water pumped from private wells. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the quality of public water, but does not regulate water from private wells.

Water quality varies from place to place. When considering water quality it is important to consider the source. Water quality depends on several factors including the condition of the source water and the treatment it receives. Contaminants found in source water may come from erosion of natural rock formations or substances discharged from factories, applied to farmlands, or used by consumers in their homes and yards. The best way to learn about the quality of your water is to contact your water supplier or, in the case of well water, have you water tested annually.

Testing & Reporting (Getting It Done):
While national statistics do not necessarily indicate the quality and safety of water coming into individual homes, there are ways for you to find information about the water you drink. Since 1999, every community water supplier is required to provide an annual report to its customers. The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water�s source, the contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water. More than 84% of the United States population uses public-supplied water for domestic use. For those who use wells and pumps to supply their homes with water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends having your water tested annually.

To protect the quality of well water, test regularly. Remember to:

1)     talk to local experts about potential contaminants,

2)     have well water tested annually by a professional for coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, pH, and other contaminants,

3)     have water quality test results interpreted and explained clearly, and

4)      keep accurate and up-to-date records.


Contact the local health department to have well water sampled and tested for contamination or call your state laboratory certification officer to find a certified lab near you. State laboratory certification officers names and phone numbers are available from the EPA�s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791 or online at

More Information On This Topic:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Drinking Water and Health - What You Need to Know!

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Drinking Water from Household Wells

USGS Domestic Water Use



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