"What's in YOUR Water?"
Find Out During Drinking Water Week
Concord, NH – As Drinking Water Week wraps up, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) urges everyone to find out what is in the water they drink.
“Approximately 60 percent of New Hampshire residents are supplied by community water systems at home,” explains Sarah Pillsbury, Administrator of DES’s Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau. “Those customers can check the annual Consumer Confidence Report provided by their water supplier. That report is mailed or directly delivered to the consumer – often with a water bill – and it includes a lot of information – about the quality of their drinking water, whether there are any contaminants in the water and how it might affect their health, what the water system does to provide quality water, and the importance of its protection for the future. ” Consumer Confidence Reports – sometimes called water quality reports – are required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and must be distributed to consumers and to DES by July 1st of every year. If customers didn’t keep a copy of the CCR, they can often find it on the water supplier’s website. Water systems’ water quality monitoring data are also available on DES’s “One-Stop” data website.
For the 40 percent of New Hampshire residents who rely on private wells, Pillsbury explains that testing is up to the well owner. “There are no statewide testing requirements for private wells,” she explains. “New Hampshire residents who use private wells are largely on their own when it comes to testing for common natural contaminants such as arsenic and radon, or pollutants that get into our groundwater that are man-made such as the gasoline additive MtBE. We recommend that private well users have the water tested every few years. Only with the right testing can you make an informed decision about whether the water should be treated and how. ” DES recommends that well owners have their water tested at an accredited private lab or at the State lab. For DES’s testing recommendations and a list of accredited labs, Pillsbury suggests searching the internet for “DES private well testing. ”
Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by a number of state authorities. In New Hampshire, bottled water facilities are licensed and inspected by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS), which also reviews testing results for in-state bottled water and beverages to determine compliance with New Hampshire and federal standards for quality and safety. FDA’s standards for bottled water quality generally mirror the federal drinking water standards, although the testing information that FDA requires bottlers to provide to consumers is less than what is required of public water systems. More information can be found on some bottlers’ websites and some state health agency websites, or by contacting the NH DHHS at (603) 271-4673.
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