FAQ - Drinking Water

Drinking Water

Q.
Is my well water safe to drink?

A. The only way to tell if your drinking water is safe is by having it tested at a certified laboratory. Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, so water that looks and tastes good may not necessarily be safe to drink. These microbes can exist in surface and groundwater supplie and can cause immediate sickness in humans if not properly treated.
Certain chemical contaminants that are sometimes found in a water source can cause long term health problems that take years to develop. Frequent water testing will decrease the risk by identifying unsafe water and ensure that the treatment system is treating the water to a satisfactory level.

Q.
What does “for human consumption” mean when used to describe drinking water?

A. Human consumption means water used for drinking, personal hygiene, bathing, showering, cooking, dishwashing, and maintaining oral hygiene.

Q.
What tests are recommended for private well water?

A. For information regarding testing of your water for personal use, contact your county health department. For Real Estate transactions, tests for Arsenic, Nitrate, and Coliform Bacteria are required in accordance with Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR 333-061-0305 to 333-061-0335).
See also:

Q.
How often should I test my well water?

A. Private well water should be tested a minimum of once per year. Drinking water supplies obtained from shallow wells and surface water sources should be tested more frequently (i.e., seasonally), as they are more susceptible to contamination.
It is important to test your drinking water at the tap and at the source. Testing both will help you determine if your water treatment system is performing correctly and if the quality of your source water has changed.

Q.
Where can I get my well water tested?

A. Residents of Washington County can contact their local Environmental Health Program. Sampling, inspecting and testing of your well can be conducted through our program or we can refer you to a certified laboratory in your area. Some communities offer free screenings, through extension services, called "Test Your Well" events.

Q.
I had my well tested two years ago. Can those test results satisfy the requirements for selling my property? 

A. The law states that test results are valid for one year from the date of testing if they are associated with the sale of the property. (OAR 333-061-0325 (7)).