Did you know that the major health organizations recommend that private water system owners should test their well and water system at least once per year? How about this thought - did you know that there are contaminants that you should test for besides bacteria and nitrates?
The Iowa DNR has guidance available to help you understand the importance of sampling and testing your private water system. Check out our
The Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center at the University of Illinois are pleased to announce a new nationwide training initiative funded by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The training will includes classes for those who own or use private water supply wells.
The Private Well Classes are designed to help a homeowner and well user understand the basic science of water wells and inform them of best practices to maintain and protect the water supply. These basic tools can help ensure a safe drinking water supply and extend the life of the well.
The classes are part of an online learning experience that includes monthly emails with class lessons that will be reinforced by monthly webinars you can attend as often as you wish - even after the emailed class materials have ended. Click here to find out how the class works.
- Arsenic in
groundwater and water wells -
Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rocks and soil. Recent concerns about arsenic in drinking water have left many homeowners wondering if they should test their water for the presence of arsenic. If your drinking water is
provided by a city or town, the public water supply is required to perform arsenic testing and inform the water users if the water supply is safe to drink. Because of this, there is not a need for private individuals to test for arsenic. Public water
supplies must provide an annual water quality report to their customers.
Read the Iowa DNR "Arsenic in Iowa's Drinking Water" Information
If your drinking water comes from a private well we recommend that the water be
checked at least once a year for coliform bacteria and nitrate to ensure that
the water is safe to drink. In addition, drinking water should also be tested for arsenic at least one time. Well owners can contact the State Hygienic Laboratory (1-
800-421-IOWA) or your
local county sanitarian and ask for a test kit to test the water for
arsenic. Analysis of drinking water for arsenic can be performed by any Safe
Water Drinking Act Laboratory certified for arsenic testing by the Iowa DNR.
Contact your local county environmental health office or the Iowa DNR for
You can find
additional information about arsenic by reading the private well arsenic
guidance found on the Water Supply Wells web page.
There are treatment options
available for well water that is determined to have elevated levels of arsenic.
Information about this contaminant and water treatment options can be found in a
State Hygienic Laboratory information booklet WellWater Quality and Home Treatment Systems. Additional information about
analysis of your drinking water can be found on the on the home page of the
State Hygienic Laboratory website found at the following web site: www.shl.iowa.edu.
Additional information on arsenic in drinking water is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and the EPA Arsenic web page.
- Attention drinking water well users in NE Iowa -
Do you live in one of the green shaded areas of the map to the right and use a private water supply well? If so, you are located in a Karst area. Constructing and maintaining a well in these areas can be complicated. Wells finished in the shallow bedrock aquifers can contain high levels of nitrates and other chemicals that cause health concerns. The Iowa DNR can provide basic information that can help you understand how your well may interact with shallow groundwater in Karst areas. For additional information, please see our Karst information
located on our Water Supply Wells
The Iowa DNR Private Water Well Program
Welcome to the Iowa
DNR Private Well Program web site. The Private Well Program provides regulatory
oversight on a number of different types of vertical boreholes and borings that meet the legal definition of "well" in our state.
These well structures include:
- Private potable water supply wells like private drinking water wells.
This includes any water supply that does not meet the requirements to be
regulated as a Public Water Supply.
- Private non-potable wells used on farm and in industry, like: Commercial water supply
wells, manufacturing and processing water supply wells; cooling tower water supplies; and any
other water well that supplies water for non-potable use.
- Irrigation wells for all uses including row crop irrigation, turf production, watering for truck gardens; water supplies for turf production and home yard irrigation.
- Test, observation and monitoring wells use to
determine the quantity or quality of the groundwater or to monitor water
groundwater levels, and monitoring wells look for contaminants in the groundwater.
- Temporary or permanent dewatering wells used to artificially lower water
tables for new and existing construction.
- Geothermal heat exchange water supply and reinjection wells used to exchange heat from
a structure to the groundwater.
- Geothermal Heat Exchange (GHEX) closed loop boreholes used to exchange heat
from a structure with the earth.
- Direct push type technology for groundwater sampling when well casing
and/or well screen is installed in the ground.
The Private Well Program rules only apply to water supply wells
and systems that serve fewer than 25 individuals on a daily basis. If a well
system provides water to at least 15 service connections (like campground spaces
or condos not served by a public water supply) or serves at least 25 individuals for 60 or more days during a year, the system requires management under the public water
supply rules. Examples of smaller water systems that meet the Public Water Supply
definition includes but is not limited to:
- rural churches,
- rural restaurants and bars,
- rural industrial or manufacturing facilities,
- rural trailer parks,
- rural wineries,
- rural conference or meeting halls,
- certain rural day care facilities,
- and any other place that is not connected to a municipal or rural water public water supply where the public gathers or conducts business and 25 or more individuals have access to the water on a daily for 60 or more days during a year.
Public Water Supplies have specific federal requirements to help
protect the health of the water users and the integrity of the water system. These requirements address the design of the water well and
water treatment systems as well as the storage and distribution systems. The design and
construction of these facilities must follow approved specifications and standards as
determined by the Iowa DNR Water Supply Engineering section. In addition, a
Public Water Supply must manage and monitor the water system according to
an operation permit issued by the Iowa DNR Water Supply Operations section. These steps help ensure that the water used by the public is safe for consumption. To
find out if you are a Public Water Supply or for more information regarding
Public Water Supply requirements, contact the IDNR Water Supply section at 515-
The Private Well Program provides administrative oversight of the statewide private well program. This includes rule development and interpretation, working cooperatively with local county
governments to administer the private well program at a local level, working with well contractors regarding minimum and appropriate standards for well services, and
providing guidance to private well owners and other citizens.
The goals of the Iowa DNR Private Well Program are to:
- Protect the groundwater resources and public health by establishing well
construction, well maintenance and well plugging standards.
- Establishing well contractor certification requirements for all types of
boreholes that meet the definition of "well."
- Provide a source for accurate and meaningful guidance to help answer
questions pertaining to the private well program areas.
The program goals are to have all private wells constructed to appropriate
minimum standards and that competent Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractors are
on-site in direct control of each well service provided. The local county
permitting authority will issue you a local and state private well construction
permit based on a single application.
To help achieve the program goals the Private Well Program works with local
county environmental health staff to issue private well construction permits at
the local level. This relationship is an important part of the program and helps
to ensure that there are local contacts to provide well construction permitting
and support for the local residents.
The Iowa DNR private well construction permit is issued at the local level
through the use of a web based private well permitting system named the Private Well Tracking System or PWTS. This allows the counties to issue
state private well construction permits, as well as record and track well water testing reports, well renovation reports and well plugging reports.
The Private Well Program also works with the Iowa DNR Operator Certification
Section to help Certified Well Contractors with their certification questions
and testing, and helps training providers determine if a training event will
qualify for continuing education units (CEUs) or "contact hours" for well
You will find additional private well related topics in the left hand column
of this page under the "Private Well Program" heading. You will also find useful links at the bottom of this
page for common requested topics. If you find that you have questions that are not
covered by these web pages, please contact us using the information at the
bottom of this page.
Additional web resources:
Testing your private water supply's drinking
DNR Arsenic Information Sheet
Well construction permit information
Heat Pump Information and Guidance
Local County Environmental Health Staff
Information about Well Logs
GeoSam Geologic and Well Information Database
What every Realtor should know about water supply wells
Water Systems Council Well Information Brochure for Realtors
Water Systems Council Well Information for Inspectors - Evaluating Water Wells
Water Systems Council wellcare® Info Sheets
- For additional information contact -
Environmental Specialist Senior
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Wallace State Office Building
502 E. 9th Street, Des Moines,IA 50319-0034
Fax 515-725-0348 Phone 515-725-0462