This week marks the 16th annual National Groundwater Awareness Week. The event, which runs March 9-15, promotes regular testing and maintenance of household water wells.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, failing septic systems are a leading cause of groundwater contamination. Regular testing can mean early detection of contamination can help protect water for well owners and their neighbors.

"We encourage private well owners to check with an appropriate state agency or local health department about any area-specific water testing recommendations," said Cliff Treyens, the National Ground Water Association’s public awareness director. He adds that, private well owners should test their water annually for bacteria, nitrate and contaminants of specific local concern, which may include arsenic and radon or contaminants from manmade sources such as landfills.

The NGWA urges well owners to check their water more often if:

  • The taste, odor or appearance of the water changes.
  • A well cap is broken or there is a new contamination source.
  • Family members experience recurring incidents of gastrointestinal illness.
  • The family has a newborn.
  • Or if there is a need to monitor the efficiency or performance of home water treatment equipment.

The NGWA urges well owners to contact their state drinking water testing lab certification officer to find a nearby certified laboratory to test their water. The group offers educational materials and other links at, as well as a database of contractors for proper cleaning and disinfection services. Well owners can also find more information in the EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Ground Water Protection.

NGWA is a nonprofit that supports responsible development, management and use of water resources. It’s comprised of groundwater professionals ranging from contractors to equipment manufacturers to scientists and engineers. For more information, visit