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Notice to Readers: Ground Water Awareness Week --- March 8--14, 2009

An estimated 88 to 100 million persons in the United States are served by community drinking water systems that rely on ground water as their sole or primary source (1,2); approximately 15 million U.S. households have their own private wells (3). Each year, the National Ground Water Association sponsors Ground Water Awareness Week to stress the importance of protecting ground water and to focus attention on annual private well maintenance and water testing (4). This year, Ground Water Awareness Week is March 8--14.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that protect public drinking water systems do not apply to privately owned wells (5). Owners of private wells are responsible for ensuring that their well water is safe from contaminants of health concern. Possible contaminants include disease-causing microorganisms, natural contaminants, and manufactured pollutants. Twenty waterborne-disease outbreaks associated with drinking water were reported to CDC during 2005--2006, including seven outbreaks caused by bacteria and viruses in ground water sources (6).

Private wells should be located away from potential contamination sources such as septic and waste-water systems, animal enclosures, and chemical storage areas (5). Private wells also should be checked every year for mechanical problems, cleanliness, and the presence of coliform bacteria and any other contaminants of local concern. A local health department or water well systems professional can help ensure delivery of high-quality water from an existing well or, if needed, help locate and construct a new well in a safer area. Additional information about well maintenance and water testing is available at


  1. US Environmental Protection Agency. Factoids: drinking water and ground water statistics for 2008. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2009. Available at
  2. US Environmental Protection Agency. Economic analysis for the final ground water rule. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2006. Available at
  3. US Census Bureau. American housing survey for the United States: 2007. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau; 2008. Available at
  4. National Ground Water Association. National ground water awareness week. Westerville, OH: National Ground Water Association; 2009. Available at
  5. US Environmental Protection Agency. Private drinking water wells. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2006. Available at
  6. CDC. Surveillance for waterborne disease and outbreaks associated with drinking water and water not intended for drinking---United States, 2005--2006. MMWR 2008;57(No. SS-9):39--69.

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Date last reviewed: 3/5/2009


Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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