Vermont Business Magazine The Department of Health is making it easier for Vermonters who live in Franklin and Grand Isle counties to make sure their well water is safe to drink. While municipal water is tested on a regular basis, homeowners who drink water from wells need to test their own taps to find out if the water contains any contaminants.
As part of a new pilot project, homeowners in northwestern Vermont can now drop off water samples closer to home – at the St. Albans Local Health Office – which will then be taken to the Health Department Laboratory in Colchester for testing. Because many of these water samples must arrive at the lab within 30 hours, this free drop-off service will help customers avoid the cost of shipping the samples overnight or having to bring them to the lab themselves.
Municipal and recreational water samples can also be dropped off at the health office.
Nearly three in 10 Vermonters get their drinking water from a private residential well. Health officials recommend that well water be tested for contaminants such as bacteria, arsenic and uranium, as well as for lead and copper that can get into the water supply from plumbing pipes and fixtures. Many of the chemicals occur naturally, but elevated levels of certain contaminants in drinking water can be harmful to your health.
“Sampling the water is simple,” said Judy Ashley, director of the St. Albans Local Health Office. “but getting those samples back to the lab in time can be a real barrier.”
“The quality of well water changes, so it’s important to regularly test your drinking water,” said Ashley. “Having a drop-off location right here in our lobby makes it easier for people to be sure the water they drink is safe.”
The Health Department recommends the following well water testing schedule:
- Total coliform bacterial test — every year
- Inorganic chemical test (arsenic, lead, nitrate and more) — every five years
- Gross alpha radiation screen — every five years
To get your water tested:
- Call the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory to purchase a test kit: Dial toll-free 1-800-660-9997 or call 802-338-4724 or 802-338-4736 to talk with a customer service representative.
- Follow the kit instructions to take samples of your water.
- Drop off the water sample at the St. Albans Local Health Office – 27 Federal Street, Suite 201. Drop off hours are Monday through Friday between 7:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (except state holidays).
Contact the St. Albans Office of Local Health: healthvermont.gov/local/st-albans