Test the Waters

Illustration by Jay Bauer, with color added by Megan McCoy

Extension in Print

Does your private water supply meet Environmental Protection Agency standards? According to Uttam Saha, resident water expert at the University of Georgia Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories (AESL), about 1.7 million Georgians rely on 640,000 private wells for their drinking water. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division regulates only public water supplies.

Whether you want to check on cloudy well water or learn why your tap water smells like rotten eggs, UGA Cooperative Extension can help. Through water sample analysis, the AESL provide an objective, analytical service to agricultural producers, agribusinesses and homeowners. In the last five years, the AESL have conducted mineral analyses on around 15,100 drinking water samples and microbiology analyses (total coliform and E. coli) on 13,000 water samples.

If you are a private well owner, test your well water annually. To provide information to the public, university faculty members author UGA Extension bulletins and circulars for Georgia residents, supplying research-based, peer-reviewed information and recommendations. To learn when and why to test the safety of your well water, check out the following titles at the UGA Extension publications website.

Your Household Water Quality: Odors in Your Water (Circular 1016)

Homeowners sometimes experience unpleasant odors in their household water. In many cases, the exact cause of the odor is difficult to determine by water testing. This publication provides guidelines as to the probable causes for common household water odors and recommends appropriate treatments.

Water Quality and Common Treatments for Private Drinking Water Systems (Bulletin 939)

Private water sources aren’t held to Environmental Protection Agency standards by any state or federal agencies, but homeowners are encouraged to follow those standards to ensure the safety of their drinking water. Some wells may contain disease-causing organisms that make water unsafe to drink. Some well water may be corrosive, and can deteriorate and damage plumbing, stain clothing and fixtures, cause objectionable tastes or create human health hazards.

Testing for Water Quality (Circular 858-2)

Private well users are responsible for the safety and quality of their well water. Private water systems may contain dissolved minerals, organic compounds or even live organisms, all of which could be at harmful concentrations. This publication identifies situation-specific water testing processes and testing types.