University of Maryland Extension

Get Your Water Tested

Most residential wells withdraw groundwater that is replenished by rainfall entering the ground within a few miles of the well. For this reason, the way you, and your neighbors, and even those outside your community use the landscape can be an important factor in the quality of your water supply. Be alert to possible sources of well contamination such as septic systems, leaking underground fuel tanks, landfills, industrial spills or discharges, animal wastes, fertilizers, and pesticides.

Detecting groundwater contamination requires regular testing. You should test your water supply once a year for bacteria and nitrates. Consider seasonal testing if one sample shows elevated levels of these contaminants. Prolonged periods of heavy rain can flush contaminants into groundwater supplies.

At the least, test your water any time you notice unusual odors, colors, or cloudiness, or if you note an interrupted supply, such as pumping air or sediment. Contact your Health Department water quality division for information on which tests might be appropriate.

To get your water tested, you can call your Health Department to arrange for a water test (if they do them), or request a list of State-certified water testing laboratories serving your area.

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