Safe Water for Community Health (Safe WATCH)

SAFE WATCH - Safe Water for Community Health

CDC helps health departments reduce harmful exposures from wells and other private drinking water systems.

CDC supports drinking water programs at health departments to address problems with private drinking water systems in their communities. These systems include private (or household) wells, cisterns, water storage tanks, and trucked water. CDC encourages health departments to strengthen and improve their programs by

Strong public health programs can help people with wells or other private water systems find potential problems and take steps to address them. Based on identified gaps, drinking water programs can help

  • Increase awareness among people with possible drinking water contamination and make recommendations about
    • How and when to test their water.
    • How to interpret test results and what contaminants were found in their water.
    • Services and products and where to find additional information.
  • Develop interventions to address contaminants found in their drinking water.

Private Water & Public Health Quick Stats

  • About 1 in 9 American residents get their drinking water from a private well.[1-3]
  • About 1 in 5 sampled private wells were found to be contaminated at levels that could affect health.[4]
  • From 1971 through 2008, the proportion of outbreaks associated with private water sources has increased.[5]
  • Fifty six percent of local health departments regulate, inspect, or license private drinking water in their community.[6]

[1] National Groundwater Association (NGWA). 2016. Groundwater use in the United States of America. Westerville, OH: NGWA.

[2] U.S. Census Bureau. “Population estimates July 1, 2014.”External QuickFacts United States.

[3] Calculated by dividing the number of American residents served by a private well (NGWA) by the 2013 US population (U.S. Census).

[4] DeSimone LA, Hamilton PA, Gilliom RJ. Quality of ground water from private domestic wells. Cdc-pdf[PDF – 263 KB]External United States Geologic Survey. Well Water. 2009.

[5] Craun GF, Brunkard JM, Yoder JS, Roberts VA, Carpenter J, Wade T, et al. (2010). Causes of outbreaks associated with drinking water in the United States from 1971 to 2006.ExternalClin Microbiol Rev. 2010;507-28.

[6] National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). 2017. 2016 national profile of local health departments Cdc-pdf[PDF – 865 KB]External Washington, DC: NACCHO.

Page last reviewed: May 18, 2018