Private Wells and Complaint Response
The Private Well Complaint Response Program receives complaints, investigates, and samples at-risk private water wells which are suspected of being contaminated by man-made contaminants.
How to File a Complaint
For complaints or more information on private well sampling, call (317) 234-7477 or (800) 451-6027 (toll free in Indiana). You can also e-mail your complaint information to email@example.com.
Private Well Owners
How to Protect a Private Well
Private wells are not regulated, and it is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure they have safe drinking water. Learn how to protect your private well from contamination by using best management practices. Information for what homeowners can do to protect their drinking water can be found at:
- IDEM: Everyday Actions that Can Change Our Water Quality
- U.S. EPA: Protect your Homes Water
- U.S. EPA: SepticSmart Homeowners
- ISDH: Drinking water sources and floods [PDF]
- U.S. EPA: Protecting your water after a flood [PDF]
- U.S. EPA: Healthy Lawn Healthy Environment [PDF]
Contaminants of Concern for Private Wells
While private wells are not regulated it is still important to be aware of heath based recommendations for the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) and Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) for contaminants in drinking water. The U.S. EPA regulates drinking water standards through the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. The drinking water standards include a list of drinking water contaminants of concern and a MCL for each contaminant. As a private well owner you can use the MCLs as guidance to understand your drinking water test results and to determine if you need to add treatment. Adding treatment to your water system can become involved and complicated depending upon your situation, and hiring a water treatment professional to install a treatment system should be considered.
IDEM manages a State Wide Ground Water Monitoring Network that is working to identify contaminants of concern in the state based on hydrogeological settings.
When testing your private well some analytes or contaminants of concern to test for include but are not limited to the following:
- Nitrate and Nitrite
- Lead and Copper
Additional contaminates of concern are covered on the following sites:
- ISDH: Well Water Quality and Testing: Know Your Risk
- U.S. CDC: Overview of Water-related Diseases and Contaminants in Private Wells
- U.S. EPA: Human Health and Contaminated Water
Sampling Private Well Water
It is important know the risk associated with your water by sampling your water if you currently have, drill a new, or are planning on purchasing a property with a private water well. We recommend sampling you water on a routine basis (frequency depends on the analyte) because groundwater conditions change over time. If a treatment system is installed both the raw and treated water should be sampled on a regular basis to see if the treatment is effective.
- ISDH: Private Well Water Testing [PDF]
- U.S. CDC: Well Testing
- U.S. CDC: A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use
How to Sample
Contact a certified drinking water laboratory for more information on what to test for and how to collect water samples based on what you would like to test for. The laboratory you select will then provide you more information based on what you are testing for including how to order sample bottles, where and how to collect samples, and the time frame and method of returning the samples to the laboratory for analysis.
- ISDH: Well Water Quality and Testing: ISDH Health Laboratories offer state wide testing for Bacteriology, Total Nitrate-Nitrite, Arsenic, Lead-Copper, and Fluoride.
- ISDH also lists resources to help you understand your results.
- Certified Drinking Water Laboratories: There are also many private laboratories that can test your well water to determine if there are contaminants present.
- Local County Health Department: Contact your local county health department to see if they are able to sample your private well, or able to coordinate with ISDH laboratories.
Disinfecting a Private Well
Testing a private well for bacteriological contamination on an annual basis is recommended for homeowners, and highly recommended if you notice a change in your water quality or after any flooding event that may have resulted in floodwater reaching a well. Disinfecting a private well would be necessary if sampling results showed positive (present) results for Escherichia coli (E. coli) and/or total coliform following a flooding event or other circumstances impacting a well and/or a home’s piping system to provide safe drinking water. To disinfect a private well, follow the Instructions for Disinfecting a Private Well [PDF]. The Indiana State Department of Health also has a rule that addresses well disinfection, 312 IAC 13, Rule 9 Well Disinfection.
Private Well Drillers/Contractors
A list of private well drillers and contractors can be found at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water - Licensed Well Drillers.
Additional information about private wells and their construction can be found on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Ground Water/Wells website.
- IDNR: Minimum Standards for Water Well Construction (IC 25-39)
- ISDH: Recommended Standards for Private Water Wells
Inspect your well regularly to make sure that it is operating properly. As a homeowner you can perform a visual inspection. Contact the Water Rights and Use Section of the Indiana DNR, Division of Water if you have well construction or inspection questions.
In order to protect drinking water sources and the safety of Indiana’s residents wells that are no longer being used need to be properly abandoned. Abandoned wells provide a route for contaminants to enter the ground water as well as being a hazard to children, adults, and animals that can fall into the opening.
Educational Links about Private Wells:
- IDNR: Ground Water / Wells
- IDNR: Water Rights [PDF]
- ISDH: Water Supply Information
- USGS: Ground Water and the Rural Homeowner
- U.S. EPA Private Drinking Water Well Site
- Water Well Care: wellcare Info Sheets
- NGWA: Wellowner.org
- The Private Well Class
- For additional education resources go to our resources page
Other Drinking Water Sources
How to Protect Drinking Water Sources:
- IDEM: Everyday Actions that Can Change Our Water Quality
- U.S. EPA: Ground Water and Drinking Water
- U.S. EPA: Flush Responsibly [PDF]
- IDEM: Smart Lawn Care. Safer Drinking Water. From the Grass to the Tap [PDF]
- US. EPA: Healthy Lawn Healthy Environment [PDF]
- File a Complaint
Public Water Supply Customers
Do you get your water from a public water supply? If so then you can use the Drinking Water Watch to learn more information about your water such as where your water comes from, sampling results, and who to contact at the public water supply if you have questions. Each community public water supply also publishes a Consumer Confidence Report that is available to the public. A community water supply is defined as one that has at least 15 service connections, or serves 25 or more people year round. Consumer Confidence Reports can be found via your water provider or through the Drinking Water Watch.
Purchased Water Customers
Do you get your water from bottled water or a water cooler service? These sources are not regulated by IDEM or the U.S. EPA. The FDA regulates bottled water however the standards may differ from the EPA’s standards. Contact the company that provides the water for water quality test results.
- U.S. FDA: Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping it Safe
- U.S. FDA: Regulations of Bottled Water Beverages
- U.S. FDA: Bottled Water/Carbonated Soft Drink Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information
- U.S. CDC: Commercially Bottled Water
Other Water Sources
If you use a cisterns or rain water for drinking water it is important for you take steps to prevent contamination, test for contamination, and maintain the water source. Like private drinking water wells, these sources are not regulated, and it is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure they have safe drinking water. If you want your drinking water tested you can use the sampling information above in the Private Well Sampling Section.
- Local Watershed Groups
- Hoosier River Watch
- Indiana Clean Lakes Program
- Indiana Beach Program
- Learn more about IDEM with the Citizen’s Guide
Questions or Concerns
If you have questions about private well water contact the Office of Water Quality Groundwater Section.