New Drilled Well Testing: What You Need to Know

New Drilled Well Testing: What You Need to Know

In April 2019, a new Vermont law passed requiring testing of new groundwater resources for single-family residences. The requirement is in the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Wastewater System and Potable Water Supply Rules (see the Water Quality section on page 194). Note that the Rules also talk about other situations when a groundwater drinking water source serving a single-family residence or other building must be tested.

FACT SHEET: Summary of What New Drilled Well Owners Need to Know

Why am I required to test my drinking water?

The law requires that all landowners of single-family residences who install a new groundwater source for drinking water (for example, a drilled well, a new shallow well, a new driven well point, or a new spring), or who deepen an existing groundwater source, test the water before using it.

If you have questions about whether you need to test your well or spring, please consult the designer or engineer you hired to design your well or spring or call the DEC Regional Office serving your area:

  • Essex Junction: 802-879-5656
  • Montpelier: 802-828-5034
  • Rutland: 802-289-0603
  • Saint Johnsbury: 802-751-0130
  • Springfield: 802-289-0603

It is also good for people to know what is in their drinking water. Some contaminants, such as arsenic and manganese, occur naturally in drinking water and most of them you cannot see, smell, or taste, and they can affect your health.

Who can collect water samples?

Landowners can collect water samples. You can also ask the following people to collect the water sample for you: well drillers, the designer or engineer you hired to design your well or spring, hydrogeologists, certified water specialists, town health officers, master plumbers, public water system certified operator.

What am I required to test my water for?

You are required to test for E. coli, total coliform bacteria, arsenic, fluoride, lead, manganese, nitrate, nitrite, uranium, gross alpha, chloride, sodium, iron, odor and pH.

There are specific circumstances in which DEC may also require you to test for other contaminants. Talk to the designer or engineer you hired to design your well or spring or call the DEC Regional Office serving your area to find out whether you are required to test for other contaminants:

  • Essex Junction: 802-879-5656
  • Montpelier: 802-828-5034
  • Rutland: 802-289-0603
  • Saint Johnsbury: 802-751-0130
  • Springfield: 802-289-0603
When and how do I collect a water sample?

The basic requirements include:

  1. Disinfecting the well with chlorine.
  2. Flushing the well to remove the chlorine from the water.
  3. Collecting the water sample using the cold-water faucet of the kitchen sink.

The laboratory you use to analyze the water sample will provide you with specific instructions on how to collect a water sample. You can watch a video about basic information on how to collect water samples, and see examples of instructions on how to collect water samples in the first column of the table under the Drinking Water and Radon Testing section.

Most water samples are collected after what is called “flushing” the water tap, or running the water for a length of time. Because lead generally comes from plumbing rather than being naturally occurring in the groundwater source, a "first draw" sample needs to be collected. A first draw sample collects the first water that comes out of the tap, which means no water goes down the drain when you collect the sample. Be sure to tell the laboratory you choose that you need a first draw lead test kit. They will provide specific instructions on how to collect the water sample.

What laboratory should I use for water testing?

You can use the Health Department Laboratory or any lab certified by the Health Department. Find a certified drinking water lab

Please note that due to the COVID-19 response, the Health Department Lab has suspended drinking water testing.

How much does it cost to test my water with the Health Department Laboratory?

The test kits from the Health Department Laboratory that cover the required testing currently cost $161. To order drinking water test kits from the Health Department Laboratory, call 802-338-4724 or 800-660-9997 (toll-free in Vermont) and ask for:

  • Kit A (total coliform/E. coli)
  • Kit ID (arsenic, chloride, fluoride, iron, manganese, nitrate, nitrite, sodium, uranium, pH and odor)
  • Kit RA (gross alpha)
  • First Draw Lead
If I use the Health Department Laboratory, when will I receive water test results?

You will receive results by mail after the Lab analyzes the sample, which is between one and 21 days.

Am I required to submit the test results to the State of Vermont? If so, how?

Regardless of the lab you use, all results need to be sent to the Health Department. This is done automatically for you by the Health Department Laboratory and by a laboratory certified by the Health Department.

If you need a DEC permit for your water supply, you may also need to submit your results to DEC. Check your permit to find out if this is required.

How do I interpret my water testing results?

You can find information on how to interpret these results from the Health Department Laboratory:

Keep in mind, lab test results from different laboratories don’t look alike. If you have questions, please contact the Drinking Water Program at 802-863-7220 or 800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont).

How do I treat my water if I have contaminants present?

You can find information about drinking water contaminants, health concerns, and treatment options on the water contaminants page. On each contaminant webpage, you will find links to water treatment specialists and certified well drillers who can provide information about treating your water. If you have questions, please contact the Drinking Water Program at 802-863-7220 or 800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont).

If you cannot afford to install a treatment system, find information about financial assistance.

Am I required to treat my water if contaminants are found in my water?

The Rules do not require you to treat your groundwater source if it serves only a single-family residence, which means the well or spring only connects to your single-family residence. However, treatment is recommended. If you rent your house, you are required to treat the water according to the Rental Housing Health Code.

How will the State of Vermont use my water test results?

The Health Department collects the water quality results and uses them to create maps to identify areas of concern for water contaminants. Check out the current maps for these drinking water contaminants:

When should I do follow-up testing of my water?

The Rules only require testing of the water before you use it unless you have a permit requiring additional water testing.

Your water can change over time. The Health Department recommends testing your water regularly (see the water testing recommendations). If you recently constructed a new well or deepened your well and tested the water, consider retesting six to 12 months later because this test result may better represent your long-term water quality.

Am I required to test the water when I am selling my home?

The simple answer is no, but the owner is required to provide the potential buyer with the Testing Drinking Water from Your Private Well informational sheet on the benefits of testing drinking water. The Health Department suggests testing your water before putting your home up for sale. Find out more about water testing before buying or selling a home