Delaware urges residents using private wells to get water tested

After more than two weeks of not being able to drink water from the tap, residents in Blades, Delaware have been given the all clear. (Dan Rosenthal/WHYY)

After more than two weeks of not being able to drink water from the tap, residents in Blades, Delaware have been given the all clear. (Dan Rosenthal/WHYY)

Following the discovery of perfluorochemicals or PFCs in the drinking water of one southern Delaware town, residents were forced to drink bottled water for weeks. Now state officials are urging residents using private wells to get their water tested.

Near the end of February, state officials gave the all clear to residents of Blades to resume drinking water from the tap after the town installed a new filtration system. The cause of the PFC contamination has not yet been identified.

One in six Delaware families gets water from a private well, which need regular testing, according to officials with the state Division of Public Health.

But it’s up to residents to make sure their water is tested annually, said Chantel Mason with the Delaware Health Department.

“Although we do not regulate private well water, we do regulate public water,” Mason said. “We do see a need for private well owners to have access to the tools that they would need in order to make sure that their water is safe.”

The department will test private well water for bacteria and chemicals for just $4. Residents can pick up test kits at the following health service centers in all three Delaware counties:

  • University Office Plaza, Chopin Building, Suite 105, Newark
  • Delaware Public Health Laboratory, Smyrna
  • Thomas Collins Building, Suite 5, Dover
  • Adams State Service Center, Georgetown

While it’s recommended that private wells be tested once a year, more frequent testing is suggested if someone in the home is pregnant or nursing, or if the water is being used to prepare formula for an infant. State officials also recommend increased testing frequency if neighbors have found a contaminant in their water or if residents notice a change in water taste, odor, color, or clarity.

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