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Water Testing

Q. What is 'Water Testing' and why is it important?

A.  Contaminants in a well or other private water supply can be worrisome to a homeowner.  The test most commonly required by banks and mortgage institutions in this area is the New York State water potability test. It is a test for specific bacteria.  Coliforms are a group of closely related and mostly harmless bacteria that live in soil and water as well as the gut of animals (including humans). The extent to which total coliforms are present in the source water can indicate its general quality and likelihood that the water is fecally (septic) contaminated.  Coliform bacteria are typically not disease causing to healthy adults.  However, some bacteria within the total coliform group, particularly some strains of E. coli (short for Escherichia coli) are highly infectious and can cause serious health consequences to the young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.  

Q.  What is the 'Mandatory Private Well Testing Law' that has been enacted in some municipalities? 

A.  Because of the increasing levels of contaminants found in our environment associated with industrial waste, illegal dumping, and poor property maintenance, some municipalities have enacted comprehensive water testing laws required for private wells.  The list of contaminants that are tested for is far more extensive than those in traditional realty water test.  The testing includes approximately one hundred different volatile organic chemicals ("VOCs"), inorganic chemicals, metals and other conditions (e.g. turbidity, hardness, pH, etc.) including the traditional bacterial test,  The results are reported to the local building department and / or county Health Department for follow-up.   Most of the laws were enacted towards the end of 2007 and are required for realty transactions -- if the tests are not conducted, the sale of the home will not be permitted.  For residential property, the results are good for 36 months.  Commercial establishments and multi-family dwellings also need to have their water tested.  The test sample collection and analysis must be performed by a laboratory having NY ELAP Certification or their authorized representative.  

As a representative of an ELAP-Certified laboratory, American Home Inspections is authorized to perform sample collection for these tests and will ensure that the results are forwarded to the proper municipality for your convenience. 

Key Features of the Testing

For traditional Bacteria Testing:

  • Confirmation of presence or absence in the water supply of these common bacteria
    • A small sample of water is collected in a sterile container and taken to an EPA certified laboratory for analysis
    • The laboratory will measure the total concentration of coliform bacteria as well as determine the presence of E. coli.
    • Pass/Fail results are typically available within 48 hours.
    • A failed potability test can often be remedied by a well chlorination treatment (please see Additional Services section).
  • Repeated or chronic failure of potability tests may require special remediation
    • Consultation with a water treatment specialist may be advised.
    • A corrective action plan may involve the installation of UV light, chlorination, and/or filtration systems.

For Westchester County and Towns of Fishkill, East Fishkill & Wappingers Falls -- Mandatory Private Well Testing (or for more thorough testing of wells outside of mandated areas):

  • Additional testing is provided in addition to bacterial testing listed above:
    • Search of organic chemicals as directed in EPA protocol 502.2 (or functional equivalent 524.2). 
    • Search for inorganic chemicals as directed in various protocols of MCAWW, SM18, SM19, SM20, etc. 
    • Search for metals (iron, mercury, manganese, etc.) as directed in EPA protocols 200 & 245, etc.
    • Final results are typically available in 15 to 18 days.  Expedites are available.

If you are in an agricultural area, then an analytic search for insecticides and herbicides may also be advised.

Specialized testing required for VA, FHA and FmHA mortgages is also available.

Generator power can be provided for winterized, distressed, or foreclosed properties if needed.

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Telephone: 845-224-6920
Postal address: 116 Judith Drive, Stormville NY 12582  
Last modified: May 30, 2013