University of Maryland Extension

Private Wells & Septic Systems

Does your home have a private well and/or septic system?

A large number of Marylanders rely on ground water to meet their water supply needs. Almost one-third of the State’s 5.5 million citizens obtain their drinking water from underground sources. Public water supply systems depending on ground water serve about 850,000 persons. An equal number of residents use private wells.

The quality of public water supplies is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but residents that rely on a private water system for their home drinking water supply have the responsibility of managing the quality of their private water well to ensure it meets drinking water safety standards. 

The University of Maryland Extension's Chesapeake Water and Septic Homeowner Education (Chesapeake WaterSHEd) program focuses on increasing Maryland resident's understanding of: where their drinking water comes from; and common sources of pollution and applicable specific local concerns. Through the program's clinics, workshops and information and resources on this website, you can learn how to:

1. Identify basic types of wells and how they function;

2. Develop strategies to maintain your private well systems and monitor your drinking water;

3. Learn how to take a water sample and understand the test results;

4. Learn how to properly manage your septic tank to save money and help reduce possible contamination of ground and surface water in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

4. Identify and implement ways to conserve household water supplies and protect groundwater quality.

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