Drinking Water Testing

The goal of Penn State's Drinking Water program is to promote well water testing and to educate home-owners on its importance. Penn State's Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory is accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for drinking water analysis.

Why should I get it tested?

There are over 1 million private wells in Pennsylvania serving 3.5 million people in rural areas. Approximately 20,000 new wells are drilled each year. About half of the private water wells that have been tested in the state have at least one water quality problem. Yet, despite the importance of testing your water, only half of Pennsylvania wells have ever been tested. 

What should I test for and when?

In general, you should test your water annually for coliform bacteria and every three years for pH and total dissolved solids. If you are concerned about potential pollutants or if you are experiencing aesthetic problems such as staining, taste, or odor, more extensive testing is warranted. Pollutants that enter wells can often be linked to activities on the land surface such as mining, agriculture, or industry.

How do I submit/obtain a water sample?

To submit a drinking water sample to Penn State's laboratory, you must first obtain a Drinking Water Test Kit. Kits are available at the Pike County Penn State Extension office. The kit consists of a cooler, shipping box, sample bottles, instructions on how to take a sample, and a submission form.

After taking your water sample, you must send the kit to the laboratory by overnight mail along with your payment for the test(s) requested. For the bacteria test, included in all test packages, the laboratory must receive the sample within 30 hours after sampling. If you need the bacteria test only, contact the laboratory to receive a smaller cooler test kit. The lab cannot accept any water samples for bacteria on a Friday.

In general, tests are complete within two weeks after sample receipt by the laboratory. With mailing time, you should receive your report within two to three weeks after sending your sample.

Penn State Extension Privacy and Legal Statements: https://www.psu.edu/legal-statements/