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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: March 7, 2017
CONTACT: Jim Martin, (603) 271-3710

What's In Your Well Water? Find Out By Testing Your Private Well
National Groundwater Awareness Week 5-11 March

Concord, NH – To celebrate National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 5-11, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services encourages residents to get their private well water tested. Clean water is fundamental to good health. But where does your well water come from? And how do you know whether it is safe to drink?  

Think of your well like a straw poked into a cup. The groundwater is the contents of the cup. Your sipping at the straw is the well pump. By testing your water regularly, you can sip your water with the security of knowing that your water is safe to drink.

In December a fuel truck rolled over on Route 28 in Londonderry, spilling gasoline and diesel fuel. This spill was cleaned up professionally, preventing the spread of pollution. But when spills are not cleaned up, they can pollute our groundwater, which moves slowly in the cracks and crevices deep beneath our feet. In New Hampshire there are also naturally occurring pollutants. As groundwater flows, it picks up naturally occurring toxins like arsenic and radon from the rocks as it travels to fill your private well. These two contaminants are common in New Hampshire well water. In fact, one in five private wells in New Hampshire exceed federal health standards for arsenic. Arsenic causes cancers of the bladder, skin, kidney, liver and lungs. It also affects developing fetuses, infants and children. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the leading environmental cause of death in the U.S. Many contaminants, like arsenic and radon, cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. A laboratory test is the only way to detect their presence. This is why, as a private well owner, you should test your well water every 3-5 years.

You can find more information and instructions for testing your water by visiting the DES website at, click on the A-Z List and choose Private Well Testing Program.

Once you receive your water test results back, return to the Private Well Testing Program page and click on the NHDES Be Well Informed web tool. This interactive tool will help you understand your water quality test results and identify options to treat your water, if necessary.

Regularly testing your private well is an easy way to protect your family's health. Visit to learn how and Sip Free and Live!

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2017. State of New Hampshire