The EPA regulates public water systems; it does not regulate private drinking water supplies. Maida Commercial & Home Inspection Services offers Water Quality Testing with any Massachusetts or New Hampshire home inspection, because many homes are dependent upon private water supplies or wells.
If you have scheduled a MA or NH home inspection and are buying, selling, or own a home on a private well, it is a good idea to perform water quality testing at the same time as your home inspection. Many contaminants are colorless and odorless, such as Arsenic, Radon in the Water or Lead. These may only be determined by laboratory testing. (See Water Test Pricing for available water test packages and parameters.)
The EPA recommends routine water quality testing for some of the most common contaminants - bacteria, nitrates, pH and total dissolved solids, should be tested annually.
Regular water testing creates a record which can be helpful if you need to solve future problems Well construction and routine maintenance are the keys to maintaining a safe water supply.
Hand-in-hand with water quality testing, a home buyer may want to consider a Water Quantity Test. This test should be performed if you have concerns about possible insufficient water supply, consistent output, possible well and/or pump failure and, whether the pump is currently functioning properly. This service can provide information on how much water output you will receive from the well. Although Maida Services no longer offers this test formally, we have included the information below for water quantity standards.
A water quality test can give you information as to the parameters of the water supply. There are many parameters: primary standards are related to health, whereas, secondary standards pertain to aesthetic qualities of the water, such as taste or staining characteristics. Although the EPA sets water quality standards for public drinking water supplies, private wells are not regulated. Therefore, the maintenance and responsibility of private wells falls upon the owner.
In general, the quality of your water can be determined by comparing the "results" of your water test to "requirements" listed in your laboratory report. The Maximum Contaminant Level ("MCL") and Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level ("SMCL") are the thresholds for public water systems. If your well water's value exceeds these requirements, you might want to consider ways to filter or clean up the water. Click here to find out what your Water Test Results mean.
Maida MA & NH Home Inspection Services offers Water Testing with the purchase of our home inspection.
When you're buying a house on a private water supply (well water) you may have concerns such as pump failure, sediment in water (which could clog water filtration systems), drops in pressure or insufficient water pressure and/or insufficient water supply during use. A short-term water quantity (aka flow or well yield) test could tell you how many gallons per minute (gpm) the well is producing and, give you an idea as to the functionality of the well pump. For a "formal" water quantity test, it is best to contract a well company.
New Hampshire and Massachusetts publish the following:
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Fact Sheet (WD-DWGB-1-8 / 2010) states, "The Water Well Board suggests that a minimum water supply capacity for domestic internal household use should be at least 600 gallons of water within a two-hour period once each day. This is equivalent to a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute (gpm) for two hours. Some homeowners may find this amount to be less than desirable depending on the size of the family or if outdoor use is a requirement. Water supply capacities less than this amount may be considered a hardship by many homeowners. In addition, the New Hampshire Water Well Association and the Board recommend a flow rate of 4 gpm for a period of four hours as an optimum water supply capacity for a private domestic supply." [emphasis added]
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, publication titled Private Well Guidelines (pgs. 38-40) states "A properly constructed private water supply well must have a sufficient capacity to provide for anticipated needs."... "Many local regulations specify a minimum well yield required for the issuance of a building permit. Fixed minimum yield requirements, however, do not take into consideration variations in the storage capacity of the well casing and variations in household size. These factors should be considered when evaluating the adequacy of a well to meet household water supply needs."... "The Required Volume is calculated as follows:
- Determine the volume of water necessary to support the household's daily needs using the following equation:
(Number of bedrooms plus one bedroom) x (110 gallons per bedroom) x (a safety factor of 2) = gallons needed daily
- Determine the storage capacity of the well using the measured static water level and the depth and radius of the drill hole or casing
- Calculate the Required Volume by adding the volumes of water in (1) and (2), above. It is this volume of water that must be pumped from the well within a 24 hour period." [emphasis added]
Massachusetts provides the following example:
- (4 bedroom house + 1 bedroom) = (5 bedrooms) x (110 gallons per bedroom) x (2) = 1100 gallons
- The volume of a 6 inch well is 1.48 gallons for every foot of length.
(100 ft. of standing water) x (1.48 gal/ft.) = 148 gallons
- 1100 gallons + 148 gallons = 1248 gallons that must be pumped from the well in 24 hours or less to demonstrate suitable capacity.
It's worth noting water quantity testing may not be appropriate in some cases; during times of drought, when the wells recovery rate will be slower, or, when you don't have permission from the seller of the property.
9 Bartlet Street #261
Andover, MA 01810
PO Box 12
Hampstead, NH 03841