Markell unveils new drinking water regulations

Arsenic, trichloroethylene and benzene…

…Nitrates, tetrachloroethylene, toluene and xylene.

These are just some of the serious threats to drinking water that come with potential health effects, ranging from hair loss to cancer.

But a new effort announced Thursday by Gov. Jack Markell, would help more Delawareans know if the above contaminants, and many others, are in their drinking water supply.

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Markell’s proposed regulation would require a water quality test when new private drinking water wells are drilled, or when a home with a private well is sold.

“When somebody purchases a home with a well they should be assured that their water is safe,” Markell said.

Markell says the 146,000 Delawareans who rely on their own wells would have the same assurances as the 82 percent of the people in the state who are served by public water systems.

Under the proposal, tests that find contaminants would be provided to the homeowner, the prospective purchaser and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, which will use the results to track the overall condition of the state’s water supplies.

“Every Delawarean has a right to know and we really want to make sure that information is collected and very accessible,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “And right now there are no mandated requirements on the water quality from private drinking wells.”

Secretary of Health and Social Services Rita Landgraf said the new requirement will put Delaware in step with surrounding states and counties when it comes to protecting the health of those with private wells.

“Although well water may taste, smell and look fine, the only way to know for sure that water is safe to drink is to test it,” she said.

Markell says the testing will not result in any additional expense for the state. The cost of the water quality test, typically in the $50-$70 range, would be covered by the well owner.

Markell also unveiled new public access to comprehensive information and test results for every public water system in the state. The information can be found on

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