Drinking Water Quality

Drinking Water Quality

If you are one of the 82 percent of Delawareans who get their water from a community water system like a water company, city or town system or shared well (not your own private well), your drinking water is tested regularly and extensively in a manner regulated by the Office of Drinking Water in the state Division of Public Health.

You can also found much more detailed analysis of public water systems on the Delaware Drinking Water Watch. This shows detailed test results and is updated as many tests occur. The information provided here is very technical, but there is a glossary to assist with many of the terms.

When testing finds contaminants in a public water system, water users are notified immediately, and told whether any precautions are necessary. Violation reports for the 213 community water systems that provide drinking water to homes, as well as for the hundreds of places like restaurants, convenience stores and other locations that serve water from wells to the public, are released immediately.

If you get your water from a private well, the Office of Drinking Water recommends that you test your water annually. A simple water test is available from the state for $4 (more details), or more comprehensive tests are available from private companies.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in 2015, expect to propose a regulation requiring that private wells for potable use be tested when the well is first dug and when a home with a private well is sold to a new owner. This regulation will be open for public comment.


Delaware Drinking Water Watch
Division of Public Health

Detailed and regularly updated testing and quality information about Delaware's public water sources — cities and towns, water companies, community systems and also restaurants, schools, convenience stores and other locations that have private wells but make water available to the public. This information is technical, but with a glossary to help explain some of the terms. For a user-friendly annual summary of water quality for the major public water systems, see the Annual Water Quality Reports above.

Water Quality Violation Notices
Division of Public Health

When testing finds contaminants or other violations of water quality in public water systems, those violations are reported immediately to owners along with any recommended actions, and the notices are also made public.

Statewide Drinking Water Quality Report
Division of Public Health

In addition to the individual public water system reports mentioned above, Delaware makes an annual report to the federal Environmental Protection Agency showing all drinking water violations and contaminants found. View these annual reports back to 1999 as well as link to the state regulations that govern public water systems.

Private Well Owners' Quality Resources
Division of Public Health

If you use a private well for your drinking water, making sure that the water is safe is your responsibility. Both the US EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend annual sampling to ensure optimal water quality. Wells should also be inspected once a year to make sure there are no mechanical problems. In addition to annual testing you should consider more frequent testing if:

  • Someone in the house is pregnant or nursing
  • The water is being used to prepare formula for an infant
  • Your neighbors find a dangerous contaminant in their water
  • You note a change in water taste, odor, color or clarity
  • When you replace or repair any part of your well or plumbing system

Well Permitting FAQ
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)

If you have or are applying for a private well to provide your drinking water, this FAQ answers questions like:

  • "How do I get a well permit?"
  • "When will my well permit be ready?
  • "Can I get a copy of my existing well permit?"
  • "What is the current permit fee for a well?"

Division of Water
Water Supply Section

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)

The Water Supply Section issues well and water allocation permits and licenses to well contractors/drillers and pump contractors/installers. Section responsibilities also include statewide drought management, ground water quality monitoring, wellhead and source water protection programs, and water withdrawal quantities in coordination with the Delaware River Basin Commission.

Water Watchers Program
Division of Public Health

Water security is a shared responsibility involving water suppliers, wastewater utilities, government, law enforcement and citizens. We all play an important role in protecting our critical water resources. Interested and dedicated citizens are essential to increase the security eyes and ears in your community Delawareans should report any suspicious activity, in and around local water utilities.

EPA Current Drinking Water Regulated Contaminant (MCL) List
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. EPA sets standards for approximately 90 contaminants in drinking water.

EPA Consumer Confidence Report FAQ
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This FAQ answers questions about the The Consumer Confidence Report, or CCR, which is an annual water quality report that a community water system is required to provide to its customers. The CCR helps people make informed choices about the water they drink. They let people know the source of their water, the presence of contaminants, if any, in their drinking water, and how these contaminants may affect their health. CCRs also give the water system an opportunity to communicate the value of water and water delivery services.

Delaware's Source Water Assessment and Protection Program (SWAPP)
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)

The Source Water Assessment and Protection Program (SWAPP) was created by Congress as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. The goal of the SWAPP is to better protect public drinking water resources by providing local and state governments, and the public more information about those resources. The susceptibility of each source of public drinking water to various types of contamination will be determined and published. Congress has provided funding though the U.S. EPA to the states to support their efforts in conducting these assessments.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has the lead role in the development and implementation of the Delaware SWAPP. The Delaware Division of Public Health and the Water Resources Agency, Institute for Public Administration at the University of Delaware, closely supports its work. A SWAPP Citizen and Technical Advisory Committee (CTAC) was formed at the start of this program in 1998 and continuing to assist in developing and implementing Delaware's SWAPP and ensures public involvement.

Water Supply Coordinating Council
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)

Legislation established a Water Supply Coordinating Council with statewide representation, chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). The Council has achieved its goal of water supply self-sufficiency in northern New Castle County by 2010, as directed by law, and has completed the water supply plan for southern New Castle County. The Council is scheduled to conclude its work by Jan. 1, 2016.

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