Private Well Water Testing

Environmental Advocates Support this Bill

Explanation: 

This bill extends water quality protections to private well owners by requiring well water testing at the time of a home sale or by a landlord.

Approximately 4 million New Yorkers on private wells lack the water quality protections afforded to New Yorkers served by public water supplies. While public water supplies are regularly tested for chemicals and bacteria, private wells are not held to the same standards. As a result, residents have no assurances that their tap water is free from dangerous contaminants, and the public does not get the full picture of local water quality issues.

This bill requires testing in two scenarios: 1) before the closing of a home sale, and 2) every five years by rental properties whose tenants are on private well water. New Jersey and Rockland County, NY have both passed private testing laws with these requirements.

The data from Rockland County’s private well testing program highlights the need to expand testing statewide. For example, out of 738 wells tested between 2005 and 2011 (five percent of Rockland County’s 14,000 wells), 32 percent of samples tested positive for total coliform bacteria. Private well owners across New York are likely to have similarly high chances of drinking contaminated water, but are also likely unaware of it.

Before New Yorkers make a big financial leap like closing on a home or signing a lease, they deserve to know that their water will be safe to drink. In light of the PFOA contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls, and the alarming levels of lead being found in numerous communities around the country, it is clear that more must be done to test our drinking water. By requiring private well testing, this bill is a step in the right direction to prevent people from getting sick.

Summary: 

The bill amends Section 3-0315 of the Environmental Conservation Law, amends Sections 206 and 1100 of the Public Health Law, adds Section 1111 of the Public Health Law, and adds Section 468 of the Real Property Law to require the testing of private well water in certain scenarios.

Memo #: 

58