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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: May 10, 2018
CONTACTS: Paul Susca (603) 271-7061,
Lou Barinelli (603) 271-2994,
Kathrin Lawlor (603) 650-1524,

Celebrate National Drinking Water Week, May 7-11

Local Organizers Team with State Agencies and Dartmouth to Test Well Water

[Editor's Note] -To recognize National Drinking Water Week, May 7 to 11, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services will be issuing a series of press releases highlighting the importance and value of drinking water to each of us in our everyday lives.

Concord, NH –Nearly half of New Hampshire families are on their own when it comes to ensuring the safety of their drinking water. That's because they use water wells that are not regulated as public water systems. Few municipalities require any testing of these private wells, and even those that do typically require testing only for a certificate of occupancy.

"Because naturally-occurring contaminants such as arsenic and radon are so common in well water in New Hampshire, wells should not be considered safe as drinking water supplies unless they are periodically tested, and if a test turns up a problem, the water needs to be properly treated," said Sarah Pillsbury, administrator of the state's drinking water program at the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). Human-caused contamination is far less common than naturally-occurring contaminants, Pillsbury says, and NHDES takes steps to address it when it's discovered.

Arsenic is one of the most common naturally-occurring contaminants; the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that one in five wells in New Hampshire has more arsenic than is allowed in public water systems. According to NHDES, even more wells have levels of arsenic or other pollutants at levels that carry a significant health risk.

To help well users take charge of their water supplies and their health, NHDES partners with the State Public Health Laboratory and the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research (TMSR) Program to support local "community well testing events." The three organizations have been invited to conduct workshops in 18 communities in the last two years, and 12 of those communities have followed up with water testing events. Those events consist of providing sample bottles and instructions to residents and establishing a day for samples to be dropped off at a central location and transported to an accredited laboratory. "These community testing events are the most effective way, of all of the methods we've tried, to get more people to test their well water," notes Kathrin Lawlor, Community Engagement Coordinator at Dartmouth's TMSR Program.

These well water testing events work best if a local coordinator steps forward, Lawlor says. That's often the health officer or another local official, but can be any interested citizen. For more information about conducting a local well water workshop or testing event, people can contact NHDES at (603) 271-7061.

For additional information on arsenic in drinking water or other sources, visit, and the Dartmouth RMST Program at or the Children's Environmental Health Research Center at Dartmouth, for more details on arsenic research. For information on where to get your water tested consult Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.



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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

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