Well-water needs to be tested periodically to ensure its potability.  The States of Maine and New Hampshire differ on what they suggest for annual well-water testing, however.  This may change, as some Maine groups are pushing to include NH's recommendations on the Maine list.

How Often New Hampshire Recommends State of Maine Recommends
Annual Nitrate
Bacteria
Nitrate
Bacteria
Nitrite
Every 3-5 Years
Standard Analysis
Standard Analysis
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Every 3-5 Years
Radiological Analysis
Radiological Analysis
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Every 3-5 Years Volatile Organic Compounds
VOCs
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Source NHDES "Suggested Water Quality Testing for Private Wells" (2 pg pdf) Maine CDC pamphlet: "Is your well water safe to drink?" (2013, 4 pg pdf))

From the New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services:

This basic analysis covers the most common contaminants. Some of these contaminants pose health-related concerns, while others only affect aesthetics (taste and odor) or provide information needed in order to determine the appropriate treatment for the water.

Radiological Analysis

New Hampshire’s geology [and Maine's] contains naturally occurring radioactive elements that dissolve easily in well water. A basic radiological analysis will test for uranium, analytical gross alpha, and radon gas. Radon is a common well water problem in New Hampshire [and Maine] and testing for it may be required by your lender or your municipality.

Presently, there are no federal or state standards for radon in drinking water, only suggested action levels. NH DES estimates that approximately one-third of private wells in New Hampshire exceed DES’s suggested action level, so radiological testing is encouraged.  [Maine's wells exceed the action level at the same rate as New Hampshire's.]

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

The most common VOCs come from gasoline compounds (such as MtBE and benzene) and industrial solvents. MtBE can be found in well water even in remote areas.

Additional Tests

Circumstances relative to your well may indicate additional testing not described here. For instance, DES does not recommend routine testing for pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic organic compounds, mainly because of the high cost. However, such testing might be warranted if your water has elevated nitrite/nitrate concentrations or if significant amounts of pesticide have been applied near the well.


From the EPA's "Protect Your Home's Water" (website):

Conditions or Nearby Activities: Test for:
Recurring gastro-intestinal illness Coliform bacteria
Household plumbing contains lead pH, lead, copper
Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich Radon
Corrosion of pipes, plumbing Corrosion, pH, lead
Nearby areas of intensive agriculture Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria
Coal or other mining operations nearby Metals, pH, corrosion
Gas drilling operations nearby Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium
Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station or dry-cleaning operation nearby Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals
Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks Volatile organic compounds
Objectionable taste or smell Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals, bacteria
Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry Iron, copper, manganese
Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby* Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium
Scaly residues, soaps don’t lather* Hardness
Rapid wear of water treatment equipment* pH, corrosion
Water softener needed to treat hardness* Manganese, iron
Water appears cloudy, frothy or colored* Color, detergents

*The last five problems listed are not the most immediate health concern. They can make your water taste bad, may indicate problems, and could affect your well long term.


The State of Maine requires some small businesses to do annual "Basic Safety" tests on their water if they get their drinking water from surface water or private wells.

The Basic Safety Test list:

Test Result Must Be
Coliform Bacteria Absent
Nitrate Less than 10 mg/L
Nitrite Less than 1 mg/L

Each of these tests has a very short hold time. Please give us a call to order bottles and schedule your drop-off time.

 

 

Please visit our Drinking Water Resources page for some great information, such as: