Frequently asked questions


When should I have my well tested?
You should have your well tested once each year for total coliform, nitrates and pH levels.  If you suspect other contaminants, you should test for those as well.  You should also have your well tested if:
  • There are known problems with well water in your area.
  • You have experienced problems near your well (flooding, land disturbances, and nearby waste disposal sites).
  • You replace or repair any part of your well system.
  • You notice a change in water quality (taste, color, odor). 

Who makes the rules and regulations for drinking water?
Regulations are made by both federal and state agencies.  The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) passed by Congress in 1974 and amended in 1986 and 1996 is governed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Within the EPA, the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water administers the drinking water program under the Public Water Supply Supervision Program.  Their functions include: 

  • Setting the maximum contaminant levels (MCL’s) for contaminants in drinking water and setting other requirements to ensure drinking water is safe.

  • Delegating primary enforcement responsibilities to the states. Monitoring state activities to ensure that regulations are being met.

  • Providing for continued research on drinking water contaminants.

  • Providing technical assistance to the states. 

Provided for in the SDWA is the intent that states accept primary responsibility for enforcement of the states’ drinking water program (primacy). Under these provisions, each state must establish requirements for public water systems at least as stringent as those set by the EPA.  In Virginia, the agency is the Virginia Department of Health.

In addition to the SDWA, the EPA has promulgated several specific rules to address various types of water contaminant problems.  Some of these rules are:  Surface Water Treatment Rule, Total Revised Coliform Rule and the Lead and Copper Rule.

What are the requirements when selling my home regarding my private well?
Contact your loan officer, however, the buyer’s lending institution will most likely require that the well pass a water quality test prior to loan approval. Most lenders require testing for bacteria. Some may require nitrate testing.
What should I know about the hardness of my water?
Many industrial and domestic water users are concerned about the hardness of their water. Hard water requires more soap and synthetic detergents for home laundry and washing, and contributes to scaling in boilers and industrial equipment. Hardness is caused by compounds of calcium and magnesium and by a variety of other metals. Water is an excellent solvent and readily dissolves minerals it comes in contact with. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water "hard." 

The hardness of water is referred to by three types of measurements: grains per gallon, milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm). The table below is provided as a reference.
Water Hardness Scale
Grains Per Gallon Milligrams Per Liter (mg/L)
or Parts Per Million (ppm)
less than 1.0 less than 17.1 Soft
1.0 - 3.5 17.1 - 60 Slightly Hard
3.5 - 7.0 60 - 120 Moderately Hard
7.0 - 10.5 120 - 180 Hard
over 10.5 over 180 Very Hard

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes standards for drinking water which fall into two categories — Primary Standards and Secondary Standards. Primary Standards are based on health considerations and Secondary Standards are based on aesthetics such as taste, odor, color or corrosivity. There is no Primary or Secondary standard for water hardness. In fact, the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences) states that hard drinking water generally contributes a small amount toward total calcium and magnesium human dietary needs (National Research Council, Drinking Water and Health, Volume 3, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1980) ​

How long will it take for the H2O Water Quality Lab to finalize my laboratory results?
Most samples are analyzed and reported to our customers within 3 to 5 business days, however some test results may take longer.