Is your water safe?
Where to find the answer: Begin by accumulating baseline water testing:
- If you receive city water, ask for water supplier to produce a copy of the most recent set of water quality results (they are required to test regularly and notify consumers)
- Reference Penn State Extension's parameters
- If you receive private water, request a report that specifically includes the full Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Data Package Array
- CATTfish Monitors for loan
- PA DEP Accredited Water Testing Labs
- USA Volunteer Water Monitoring Network
- Environmental Health Project Citizen Science Toolkit
If your water is safe:
Continue to monitor your water in case of future contamination.
If your water is NOT safe:
If you think there is something wrong with your water (through visual, smell, taste observation OR testing) you should contact the DEP via their complaint line.
Once DEP confirms your complaint, you will receive a letter that acknowledges the contamination. This will send a trigger to the operator/company alerting them to the need to provide replacement water.
Different levels of contamination call for different plans of action. At a minimum, if testing shows that your well is contaminated, do not drink the water. Notify the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (or your local agency if outside of PA). If more serious contamination is found, residents should also limit bathing and cooking with their well water, ventilate rooms where water is used (for example, laundry and bathrooms), and treat the water system.
A detailed explanation of monitoring results and actions to take can be found here, or view SWPA-EHP’s shorter executive summary here.
- CMU CATTfish (not very affordable)
- Ben Meadows -- TDS/Conductivity meter
- HM Digital EC/TDS/Temp/Salinity meter
Who to connect with:
Many organizations lend out monitoring equipment. Examples of organizations to reach out to are:
- U.S. EPA National Directory of Volunteer Monitoring Programs
- Select “View Programs by State,” then explore various monitoring programs under each state heading.
Advocates recommend testing your water and filing a complaint as soon as possible, as it has been reported that DEP investigations are slow. If you have seen, smelled or tasted any irregularities in your water, please stop using it immediately.