Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (2022)

Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (1)Because we live in Florida, we are lucky to have a plentiful source of ground water. Ground water fills the cracks and pores in sand, soil, and rocks that lie beneath the surface of the earth, much like water saturates a sponge. These saturated layers of earth are called aquifers, and they are the primary source of drinking water in Florida.

Due to its protected location underground, most ground water is naturally clean and free of contaminants. Unfortunately, Florida's aquifers can become contaminated by chemicals and microbes that can cause illness. Bacteria and nitrate can reach the ground water and wells through poorly maintained septic systems, livestock areas and fertilizer application, or as a result of poorly constructed wells. Chemicals can enter into the ground water from leaking gasoline storage tanks, pesticide applications, landfills, and improper disposal of toxic and hazardous wastes. As a private well owner, you should be aware of these potential risks to the ground water and your household water supply.

Do you have a well?

About 88% of Florida's residents are served by public water systems covered by the Federal and State Safe Drinking Water Acts. The other 12% receive their water from "limited-use" public water systems and private wells. While all public water systems in Florida are required to perform routine testing to ensure that they meet state drinking water standards, private well owners are responsible for ensuring that their OWN well water is safe to drink.

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that consumption of contaminated drinking water in the United States has resulted in thousands of cases of illness each year. Contaminated drinking water can cause a number of diseases, and is sometimes fatal. The most common contaminants are microbes and nitrate.

Microbes: Many types of bacteria themselves are generally not harmful, but their presence is an indication that other harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites may also be present. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are some of the most common symptoms resulting from drinking water that is contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Nitrate: High levels of Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (2)nitrate in drinking water can pose an immediate threat to infant children. When consumed, nitrate is known to react with hemoglobin in the blood causing an anemic condition known as the "blue baby syndrome."

To ensure that your private water supply is safe and healthy, you should understand the importance of maintaining your own well and water system and performing routine water quality tests.

Well Disinfection

Homeowner's Guides to Your Well

Buying a Home with a Well

(Video) Is Your Well Water Well?

Well Water Poster (Spanish)

Arsenic Well Water Fact Sheet

Chemical Contaminants - HALs and Chemical Fact SheetsColiform Bacteria Fact Sheet

Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)

Nitrate

Odor and Staining

Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (4)Test Your Well Water Every Year - It's Simple and Inexpensive

If you have a private well, the Department of Health strongly recommends that you test your water for bacteria and nitrate at least once per year. Routine water testing is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to ensure that your water supply is safe and to protect your family's health. Your local county health department can provide you with instructions on how to collect the water samples yourself and to have them tested (usually $20-30 per sample). In some cases, local health department staff can come to your home and collect the samples for you, if you wish, for an additional fee (additional $30-$40 per visit). Private state-certified laboratories are also available to perform water testing and can be located in the phone book, by searching DEP's online laboratory listing, or by asking your local health department for a listing.

While bacteria and nitrate are the most common threats to your drinking water, your water well may also be susceptible to other contaminants. Depending on past and present land-use activities or other sources of contamination in your neighborhood, additional water tests may be recommended by your local health department. In some cases, the health department may be able to do testing for certain toxic substances free of charge. In some counties, testing for naturally occurring radiological contaminants may also be recommended. Be sure to ask your local health department if they recommend that you have your water tested for any other contaminants besides bacteria and nitrate.

(Video) What to Know When Buying a Home with a Well and Septic System in Virginia

Be sure to always use a state-certified laboratory to ensure that the results are valid. Your local county health department can help you understand your test results and advise you on measures you should take should the results show that your well water is contaminated. You may need to disinfect your well, repair your water system, or install treatment equipment. Again, be sure to use a state-certified laboratory to test your water to protect yourself from water treatment equipment sales companies that may try to sell you unnecessary treatment equipment.

Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (5)

What Should I do If My Well is Flooded?

Testing Your Drinking Water for Safety

Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (6)Floridians should be aware that in Florida, if a well provides water to 2 or more rental residences, or if a well provides water to a home that is used as a day care facility, group home, nursing home or assisted living facility, then the well is actually considered a Public Water System, NOT a private well. Also, if a water well serves a business or commercial establishment, it is considered a Public Water System.

Public Water Systems are regulated by either the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) under 381.0062 of the Florida Statutes and Chapter 64E-8 of the Florida Administrative Code. Typically, if a water system serves less than 25 people and less than 15 service connections, then it is regulated by the FDOH as a smaller Limited Use Public Water System and if it serves more than 25 people or more than 15 service connections, then it is regulated by the FDEP as a larger Community or Non-Community Water System.

In either case, the owner of aPrivate Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (7)Public WaterSystem is required to conduct routine water quality testing and to properly maintain and operate the system according to Florida rules. These requirements help to protect residents, employees, and consumers from possible water contamination, and to prevent waterborne diseases. For questions or concerns about a public water system, please contact the Environmental Health Division at your Local County Health Department.

More Information for Businesses, Tenants, Realtors and Landlords:

Buying or Selling Homes with Wells Information Sheet

(Video) Henrico Reports Results of Well Tests in White Oak Area

Buying a Home with a Well

Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (8)

Drinking Water and Ground Water Kids' Stuff: educational games and activities are offered for students and teachers.Learn about the water cycle.

Groundwater Adventurers is a program of the National Ground Water Association for kids who like science, fun, and exploration.

Try some of these brain ticklers for Groundwater Adventurers of all ages.

Learn about groundwater through these fun experiments and activities.

The National Ground Water Association has developed this list of groundwater resources and materialsto help elementary and secondary educators prepare lesson plans on the subject of groundwater. These materials may also be useful to anyone interested in informing themselves and others about groundwater.

Arsenic in food and water may pose health risks, especially for infants and children. Learn about arsenic, where it comes from, and healthy tips to reduce your risk.

Private Well Testing | Florida Department of Health (9)

Ground water and drinking water resources are provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

(Video) Bacterial Testing for a Private Residential Well in South Carolina

A discussion of the U.S. Geological Survey private well contaminants study is offered in audio format.

Know the basics of water well systems (from the National Ground Water Association).

Educational and governmental web sites provide additional information for water well owners and consumers.

I'm buying/selling a house with a well. What testing does the state require?

The state of Florida does not have a requirement for well sampling when private homes are sold. However, our general recommendations are that private water wells be tested for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and lead. Any certified drinking water lab should be able to handle these tests for a reasonable price. Other tests may be useful, depending upon the location, depth, and condition of your well.

​I live in a house served by a well. What tests do I have to run?

​The state of Florida does not have requirements for routineprivate home well water sampling. ​However, we recommend that homeowners test their water for coliform bacteria and nitratesevery year. ​Also, most homeowners should test for lead every three years.

Some of our County Health Departments are responsible for enforcinglocal rules requiring testing of newly-constructedwells or repairs.If you live in Brevard, Broward, Citrus, Duval, Flagler, Highlands,Hillsborough, Osceola,Palm Beach, Pinellas, Sarasota, or Volusia​ County, you should contact your local DOH office.

Where can I find a list of certified laboratories that can dowater testing?

The Department of Environmental Protection maintains a database of certifiedlaboratories.

Please be aware that not every lab on the list will suit your needs. You may need to call several in order to find the right one for you. You should also contact your local County Health Department​, as they are the local experts and may have additional information or contacts.

​I renta houseserved by a well. What does mylandlord have to do?

There areno specifictesting requirements for a well serving a single-family home or a structure containing a single rental unit. Wells serving multiple rental units or commercial property may fall under the Limited Use Public Water System rule​ or Florida's Safe Drinking Water Act.

Note thatunderFlorida's Landlord/Tenant Law​, the landlord is responsible for maintaining plumbingin reasonable working condition. Questions or complaints should be directed to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesDivision of Consumer Services​.​​

FAQs

How can I test my well water in Florida? ›

Routine water testing is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to ensure that your water supply is safe and to protect your family's health. Your local county health department can provide you with instructions on how to collect the water samples yourself and to have them tested (usually $20-30 per sample).

Who is responsible for testing community wells in Florida? ›

In 1984, the State of Florida created what is now the Well Surveillance Program to ensure that potentially contaminated wells are located and tested. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Health (DOH) both have responsibility for program.

Where can I get well water tested near me? ›

Often county health departments will help you test for bacteria or nitrates. If not, you can have your water tested by a state certified laboratory. You can find one in your area by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visiting www.epa.gov/safewater/labs.

Who regulates wells in Florida? ›

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates the practice of water well contracting, permitting and construction as authorized by Chapter 373, Part III, Florida Statutes, Regulation of Wells.

Who or which entity is responsible for testing community wells? ›

Yes, as a private well owner, you are responsible for testing your well to ensure the water is safe to drink. EPA is responsible for making sure that the public water supply within the United States is safe.

Is well water safe to drink in Florida? ›

The majority of these wells produce water that tastes good and is free of harmful contaminants. Unfortunately, certain chemicals and bacteria that may cause disease have been found in some wells in Florida.

What tests should I have done on my well water? ›

At a minimum, check your well every spring to make sure there are no mechanical problems; test it once each year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, you should test for those as well.

Are water testing kits accurate? ›

Accuracy. A water quality test kit's accuracy will vary by manufacturer, but most are calibrated to EPA testing standards to ensure they're as accurate as possible. Some kits have even been verified for accuracy by EPA-certified laboratories.

How do you test a well? ›

How to Test Your Well Water - YouTube

Do you need a permit for a well in Florida? ›

Is a permit required? Yes, a well construction permit is required to construct a well. A Florida licensed water well contractor must apply for the permit before construction begins, and should provide the owner with a copy of the permit.

Is it legal to drill my own well in Florida? ›

All wells must be constructed by a licensed water well contractor. The only exception to this law is for a water well two (2) inches or less in diameter constructed by an individual for his/ her own private use on his/her owned or leased property as specified in Section 373.326(2), Florida Statutes.

What is the average cost of a well in Florida? ›

A 100 foot well will run around $2,000-3,000 and a 400 foot well will average in the range of $6,000-12,000. This price will include the drilling, installation of the casing, and the well cap.

Why is testing private water wells important? ›

It is important that private ground water wells are checked regularly to ensure that the water is safe for drinking. Typically, private water systems that serve no more than 25 people at least 60 days of the year and have no more than 15 service connections are not regulated by the EPA.

How long do water wells last? ›

The average lifespan for a well is 30–50 years. 2. How deep is the well? Drilled wells typically go down 100 feet or more.

How deep are wells in Florida? ›

Florida Well Depth Requirements

Florida wells can go as deep as 1000 feet, but most in our area of North Central Florida run 100 to 400 feet because the aquifer is closer to the ground's surface. For most homeowners, a 3-4 inch diameter well outfitted with a pump works best.

How do you maintain a private well? ›

Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil away from your well. Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair. Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, or chemical storage facilities.

Can drilled wells get contaminated? ›

A well cap that is not water tight or vermin proof can be an entry point for contamination. Bacteria can be introduced into a well when it is drilled, or when a pump is installed or serviced. Water wells should be sanitized after any service or installation work.

Can a septic tank contaminate a well? ›

Your septic system could contaminate your drinking water well or a nearby well under certain conditions. Remember to test the drinking water from your well regularly and take corrective action as needed.

How long do wells last in Florida? ›

A water well professional can help you schedule further inspection, maintenance and testing to keep your new well system operating at peak capacity. A properly constructed and maintained well can provide 20+ years of safe drinking water for you and your family.

Where is the best well water in Florida? ›

Tallahassee, Florida

Tallahassee is the capital of the gorgeous state of Florida. The city gets its tap water from the Florida Aquifer – one of the most thriving sources for groundwater in the world.

How do I test my well water for bacteria? ›

How to Test Well Water for Bacteria - YouTube

What do you do if your well tests positive for coliform? ›

When coliforms have been detected, repairs or modifications of the water system may be required. Boiling the water is advised until disinfection and retesting can confirm that contamination has been eliminated. A defective well is often the cause when coliform bacteria are found in well water.

How do you make well water safe to drink? ›

Keep Well Water Safe for Drinking
  1. Locate a copy of your well log. ...
  2. Keep records and a maintenance plan for your well. ...
  3. Make sure your well seal is in good condition. ...
  4. Store and use chemicals properly. ...
  5. Keep a safe distance between your well and septic system. ...
  6. Ensure that abandoned wells are sealed.

Is well water safe to drink? ›

Typically, groundwater is naturally clean and safe to drink. Because the soil on top acts as a filter, groundwater is usually free of micro-organisms that may cause disease. However, groundwater can become contaminated if the casings or caps for wells are not installed in the correct way.

How can I test my water at home? ›

Water quality test strips

Fill a test container with a water sample, dip a test strip in, swirl the container, and wait a few minutes with the test strip resting in the water sample. Take the strip out of the water and compare the color changes on the test strip to a color chart included in the kit.

How much is a well flow test? ›

Nationwide, the average cost of a well inspection is $300 to $500. The price depends on the inspector's rates, the types of water tests they conduct to check your water quality, and whether they provide a septic inspection at the same time.

Is 10 gpm good for a well? ›

Typical numbers for well recovery rates (if measured honestly over a 24-hour period) run from a fraction of a gallon per minute (a terribly poor well recovery or flow rate) to 3 gallons a minute of water flow (not great but usable) to 5 gallons per minute (just fine for residential use) to more than 10 gpm (a great ...

How long does a well flow test take? ›

A properly constructed well flow test is done over 24 hours and measures the actual flow capacity of the well; it usually requires a calibrated, adjustable-flow-rate pump used by the well driller at the time of well construction: that's not something you're going to accomplish at a home inspection.

How much is a well permit in Florida? ›

​Wells Serving Public Water Systems (Per Well)
​Monitor Well Permits In place for one week or more -Deeper than the first confining unit Lower Tamiami Aquifer and deeper​$50 per Monitor Well ( Water Table Aquifer ) $275.00 per Monitor Well
​Permit Time Extension​$200
​Permit Application Late Fee​$150
5 more rows

How long does it take to drill a well in Florida? ›

Depending on drilling conditions, well installation can take 1–2 days.

Can I install my own well pump? ›

If you have a well that is 300' or less in depth, there is no reason that you could not install your own pump system. Even deeper can be done, but it may require extra preparation and ability.

How much does a well and septic cost in Florida? ›

An average cost of water well drilling is $2,750 to $7,550, while installing a septic tank water system costs $6,500 and $20,000. Get free estimates from the best well drilling company in Florida or discuss the well drilling process now.

How far down is water in Florida? ›

Aquifer facts

The Floridan aquifer averages 1,000 feet thick, and freshwater can extend to a depth of 2,000 feet below land surface. Freshwater is thickest in the central portions of the state and rapidly thins toward the coast and the south.

How deep can you drill your own well? ›

Drilling a Water Well for household use will usually range from about 100 feet to 500 feet deep, but... When drilling a new well for your home or business, the depth of the well depends on the geology and underground water levels of the area.

Do wells dry up in Florida? ›

Because Florida is blessed with a plentiful supply of water, the answer to the question “Do Water Wells Run Dry?” is yes, although not frequently.

How much does it cost to dig a 200 ft well? ›

Many residential water wells require digging at least 50 to 200 feet deep with a four- to-eight-inch pipe casing. With an average of $30 per foot, you could pay between $1,500 and $6,000 to drill a typical residential well.

How much does it cost to dig a 400 foot well? ›

To drill a well 400 feet deep, the cost may run $6,000 to $12,000. These figures don't include the well pump, the piping for water delivery, pressure switch, the storage tank or any plumbing from the well to the house site. It also doesn't include any water conditioning equipment for water that requires treatment.

How do you test water quality? ›

pH: pH test strips and color disk tests are widely available. More expensive, higher-tech options include electrode-based pH meters. pH is a measure of hydrogen ion activity, which means that it tells us how acidic or basic the water is. pH is not a pollutant, but it is a chemical master variable.

What are different types of water testing? ›

Bacteriological tests show the presence of bacteria, characteristic of faecal pollution.
  • 1 Physical tests. Colour, turbidity, total solids, dissolved solids, suspended solids, odour and taste are recorded. ...
  • 2 Chemical tests. ...
  • 3 Bacteriological tests.

Is well water safe to drink? ›

Typically, groundwater is naturally clean and safe to drink. Because the soil on top acts as a filter, groundwater is usually free of micro-organisms that may cause disease. However, groundwater can become contaminated if the casings or caps for wells are not installed in the correct way.

Can you drill your own well in Florida? ›

All wells must be constructed by a licensed water well contractor. The only exception to this law is for a water well two (2) inches or less in diameter constructed by an individual for his/ her own private use on his/her owned or leased property as specified in Section 373.326(2), Florida Statutes.

How often should well water be tested? ›

When to have your well tested. At a minimum, check your well every spring to make sure there are no mechanical problems; test it once each year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, you should test for those as well.

Are water testing kits accurate? ›

Accuracy. A water quality test kit's accuracy will vary by manufacturer, but most are calibrated to EPA testing standards to ensure they're as accurate as possible. Some kits have even been verified for accuracy by EPA-certified laboratories.

What is the most important water quality test? ›

Bacteria Tests

One of the most common and most looked for is E. coli bacteria, which comes from fecal matter exposure and can result in serious health issues when consumed. Bacteria testing is essential in determining how safe water is to drink or expose to your skin.

What are the three types of water quality testing? ›

In general, water testing can be classified as bacterio¬logical, mineral/inorganic and organic chemicals tests. Bacteriological tests generally check for indicator bacteria (for example, total coliform, fecal coliform or Escherichia coli) and can indicate the presence or absence of disease-causing bacteria.

Which is a standard agency for water testing? ›

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standards body, said that the onus of testing the quality of tap water lies with Jal Shakti ministry, state governments and respective departments supplying water to households.

What is the standard test of the water? ›

The microbiological test will identify total coliforms (a type of bacteria) and faecal coliforms in drinking water. The faecal coliform test (most commonly tested for thermotolerant coliforms or Escherichia coli) will indicate the level of faecal contamination in the water and how safe the water is to drink.

How can I naturally purify my well water? ›

Yes, boiling is the surest way to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the well water. To boil the water so it will be safe, heat it to a full swirling boil. Keep the swirling boil going for at least one minute before you use the water. Store the boiled water in a clean, covered container in the fridge.

How do you disinfect well water? ›

Rinse the inside of the well casing with a garden hose or bucket for 5-10 minutes. Open all faucets inside the home and run the water until you notice a strong odor of chlorine (bleach) at each faucet. Turn off all faucets and allow the solution to remain in the well and plumbing for at least 12 hours.

Does well water need a filter? ›

Self-built private well water must be filtered and purified to ensure drinking quality. Groundwater is susceptible to surface contamination, so unfiltered well water is a safety hazard. Drinking the unfiltered well water could make you sick.

How far down is the water table in Florida? ›

The Floridan aquifer averages 1,000 feet thick, and freshwater can extend to a depth of 2,000 feet below land surface. Freshwater is thickest in the central portions of the state and rapidly thins toward the coast and the south.

How deep is the average well in Florida? ›

Florida Well Depth Requirements

Florida wells can go as deep as 1000 feet, but most in our area of North Central Florida run 100 to 400 feet because the aquifer is closer to the ground's surface. For most homeowners, a 3-4 inch diameter well outfitted with a pump works best.

How deep do you have to dig a well in Florida? ›

How deep should your well be? Where you are in the district determines how deep your well must be to get water. For example, throughout central Florida, the Floridan aquifer is 100 to 200 feet beneath the land's surface. In north-central Florida, the aquifer is very close to the ground's surface.

Videos

1. How to Test Your Well Water
(mnhealth)
2. Discussing Fitchburg Now - American Red Cross & Private Well Testing 9.23.20
(Discussing Fitchburg Now)
3. Testing private well water to protect children in your care
(mnhealth)
4. Health Equity Summit with Google Health 2022
(Google)
5. Radionuclides in Private Wells of Wake County, NC
(North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services)
6. Private Wells & Testing Drinking Water
(Paul Cochrane)

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