About 12% of New Jersey residents get their drinking water from private wells. While public water supplies are protected under State and Federal regulations, private well owners are responsible for monitoring the quality of their own well water and for maintaining their own wells.
There are many substances that can negatively affect the quality of your well water — from natural sources, like bedrock; or from man-made sources like agricultural run-off, waste sites, disinfection chemicals, or plumbing fixtures.
The most common types of well water contaminants in New Jersey include:
- Infectious microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, which are found in human and animal feces
- Nitrates, which come from the natural breakdown of human and animal wastes, and from chemical fertilizers
- Lead, which was used in the past in household plumbing and can also come from landfills, industrial facilities, and hazardous waste sites
- Other inorganic compounds such as arsenic and mercury, come from household septic tanks, landfills, industrial facilities,hazardous waste sites, or can occur naturally
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which come from household septic tanks, gas stations, landfills, dry-cleaning facilities, industrial facilities, and hazardous waste sites
- Radionuclides such as radium, uranium, and radon, which come from the decay of natural rock.
Regular water testing is an important step that private well owners can take to ensure that their water supply is both safe to drink and appealing to use. Well owners are encouraged to test as follows:
- At least once: for mercury, arsenic, and gross alpha
- At least once a year: for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, pH, total dissolved solids
- Every 3-5 years: for lead, VOCs, manganese
The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (NJ PWTA) mandates private well testing on sale of property and for landlords. You must test your well when required by the NJ PWTA.
Make sure that the lab is certified to test for the specific contaminants of concern to you and are certified for private well testing in accordance with the NJ PWTA. There are commercial testing laboratories that perform well water sampling and testing.
Click here for a list of New Jersey labs certified for well water testing.