What Should You Test?

What Should You Test?

The water test(s) to be ordered depends on the source of your water. Choose from the sources below to find more information on testing.

Public Water Supplies

If you pay a bill for your water, or your landlord or housing association pays a bill for your water, your water comes from a public water supply.

If you have a concern about your public water supply, specific public water supply test results, or would like a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report, call the local number listed on your water bill or 800-823-6500 for the Drinking and Groundwater Protection Division of the Agency of Natural Resources.

Your water utility will know what the pipes are made of from their service line to your meter, but they don’t know what pipes you have inside your home. If you are on public water, test your water for lead and copper to find out if your pipes or fixtures are a source of lead or copper with a first draw test.

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Drinking Water Contaminants for Compliance Monitoring: Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, all municipal and other public water supplies must be tested regularly for bacteria, nonorganic chemicals, naturally occurring radioactivity, and naturally occurring compounds. Schools on their own wells are public water supply systems, and are tested routinely.

The Water Supply Rule includes a list of contaminants and corresponding contaminant levels. This rule applies to all water systems in Vermont, which include public water systems, bottled water systems, non-public water systems, and privately-owned water sources.

The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division at the Department of Environmental Conservation oversees the testing schedule and compliance.

Private Water Supplies

Private water supplies are wells or springs. Public water supplies come from municipal/town water and you would receive a bill for this.

I Have a New Well or Spring, or am Deepening my well

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, are required to test the water before using it.

State rules require testing once for:

  • Total coliform/E. coli test (Kit A)
  • Arsenic, chloride, fluoride, iron, manganese, nitrate, nitrite, sodium, uranium, pH and odor (Kit ID)
  • Gross alpha radiation screening test (Kit RA)
  • First Draw Lead (DC-Lead)

Learn more about testing your newly drilled well
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Find drop-off locations for your test kits

I Have an Existing Well or Spring

If you have an existing well or spring, you are not required to test the water. However, to ensure that drinking water is safe, the Vermont Department of Health recommends the following testing schedule:

  • Total coliform/E. coli test (Kit A): every year
  • Inorganic chemical test (Kit C): every five years
  • Gross alpha radiation screening test (Kit RA): every five years

Iron and Sodium tests are currently being subcontracted. You may continue to order tests from us and we will continue to send you all the results.
    For more information on iron and sodium subcontracting, please see our FAQ.

Learn more about private water testing
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Find drop-off locations for your test kits

Rental Property Water Supplies

Rental Property Owners - If your rental property is on a private well, you are required by the Rental Housing Health Code to provide safe drinking water. See the information under “Private Water Supplies” for more information.

  • Total coliform bacterial test (Kit A): every year
  • Inorganic chemical test (Kit C): every five years
  • Gross alpha radiation screening test (Kit RA): every five years

Iron and Sodium tests are currently being subcontracted. You may continue to order tests from us and we will continue to send you all the results.

For more information on iron and sodium subcontracting, please see our FAQ.

Order a test kit
Learn more about private water testing

Tenants/Renters - If you use a public water supply, your water bill may be paid by your landlord, in which case you probably don't receive the annual Consumer Confidence Report. The report details the water supply information and any elevated test results in your area. You can look up your town's Consumer Confidence Report here. To request a copy of this report, or if you have any related questions, call your local water department or 800-823-6500 for the Drinking and Groundwater Protection Division of the Agency of Natural Resources.

If your water comes from a private supply, such as a well or spring, you may ask your landlord to test it. The Vermont Rental Housing Health Code requires that rental water supplies be safe.

If you have unresolved concerns about the quality of your private water supply, contact your town health officer, who can take a sample to test for bacteria, inorganic chemicals, and gross alpha radiation.

Learn more about public water testing

Food and Lodging Businesses

If your food or lodging business is on a public water supply (you receive a water bill), testing is done by your local water department. You should receive testing information and results in your annual Consumer Confidence Report. If you have any questions or concerns about your public water supply, call the local number listed on your water bill or call 800-823-6500 for the Drinking and Groundwater Protection Division of the Agency of Natural Resources.

If your food or lodging business has a private well or spring, you must test every year for Total Coliform and E. coli using a state-certified lab to analyze the sample.

Water Supplies for Farms and Animals

If you operate a farm or keep animals or livestock, protect your health and the health of the animals by following the recommendations based upon your water supply. For testing irrigation water, a Kit AG is recommended. For more information on testing irrigation water visit our Testing Bacteria in Environmental Water page or view this fact sheet on testing irrigation water.

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