Before buying or leasing property, it is important to verify the source of the drinking water. Although it’s rare, some commercial properties do draw water from on-site drinking water wells.
Depending on applicable regulatory requirements, drinking water wells at commercial establishments may be regulated as public water supply wells. Specific regulations depend on the location of the drinking water well and the population it serves. The management of drinking water wells that are considered public water supply wells frequently includes requirements for monthly, bi-annual, or annual drinking water sampling.
While many commercial drinking water wells are tested regularly for microbial parameters such as total coliform bacteria, drinking water wells should also be tested at the time of construction for naturally-occurring parameters such as heavy metals and radionucleotides. Older drinking water wells may not have been tested for all of these parameters at the time of their construction.
Drinking water wells at properties such as gas stations or drycleaners, or drinking water wells located near known or suspected releases, should also be considered for testing for manmade contaminants, such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Single-family residences may also use on-site drinking water wells. A USGS survey of around 2,100 private drinking water wells found potential health concerns in over 20% of private drinking water wells sampled. The majority of the contaminants were inorganic contaminants which were naturally occurring.
Drinking water quality can also be a concern at sites connected to municipal water. Lead solder in plumbing was banned in the US on June 19, 1986, and plumbing fixtures that are not “lead free” were banned from sale after August 6, 1998. Lead supply lines or lead solder in drinking water fountains can present a risk to site occupants and may be found in older buildings.
Identifying a property’s drinking water source is the first step to identifying risks associated with drinking water quality.
For more information, see