Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) have launched the Safe Well Water Initiative 2009 to increase private well owner awareness of the need and responsibility for regular testing of drinking water.

Illinois EPA and IDPH are partnering to help inform private well owners in Illinois of the need to have regular testing for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants that historically may have contaminated ground water sources. As part of this initiative, the agencies are distributing fact sheets, well testing instructional brochures and other information via e-mail to numerous government and professional groups for distribution to their members and to the general public. The purpose of the effort is to ensure that citizens across the state who obtain drinking water from an estimated 400,000 private wells do not have a potential health risk from contamination.

Under this new joint initiative, efforts will be focused on the need for testing for VOCs. In recent years, VOCs are increasingly being found in ground water in many areas of Illinois and across the nation, as a result of the breakdown of cleaning solvents and fuels. In 2005, IEPA and IDPH joined together on a private well water education initiative that focused on testing for bacteria, nitrate, radium and arsenic, and other contaminants. With this expanded initiative, the Illinois EPA and IDPH encourage private well owners to learn as much as possible about these chemical threats to safe drinking water and to have their well water tested.

The Illinois EPA has posted several documents on its Web site,, including instructions on private well testing, the reasons that ground water becomes contaminated, and information in Illinois’ Right to Know laws that keep the public informed about their public and private drinking water sources.