More than 43 million people - about 15 percent of the U.S. population - rely on domestic wells as their source of drinking water (Hutson and others, 2004). The quality and safety of water from domestic wells, also known as private wells, are not regulated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act or, in most cases, by state laws. Rather, individual homeowners are responsible for maintaining their domestic well systems and for monitoring water quality. The lack of regular monitoring of domestic wells makes periodic assessments at national, regional, and local scales important sources for providing information about this key source of drinking water.
This study from the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assesses water-quality conditions for about 2,100 domestic wells. The sampled wells are located in 48 states and in parts of 30 regionally extensive aquifers used for water supply in the United States. As many as 219 properties and contaminants, including pH, major ions, nutrients, trace elements, radon, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), were measured. Fecal indicator bacteria and additional radionuclides were analyzed for a smaller number of wells. The large number of contaminants assessed and the broad geographic coverage of the present study provides a foundation for an improved understanding of the quality of water from the major aquifers tapped by domestic supply wells in the United States.