Private Water Supplies

Water supplies not meeting the definition of a "Public Water Supply" are typically referred to as private water supplies.  The NYS Department of Health has established standards for well construction and guidelines for proper siting and water quality testing.  Educational information and recommendations are provided on request.

Water Testing Services

The Cattaraugus County Health Department provides basic water sampling/testing services for residents of Cattaraugus County.  If you wish to schedule a test of your drinking water, please contact the Environmental Health Division at (716) 701-3385 or (716) 701-3386.  Our staff will direct you to the appropriate inspector to schedule an appointment.  Alternatively, you may collect a sample yourself for analysis (sterilized sample bottles are available at the Cattaraugus County Department of Health Laboratory). 

Non-residents may still utilize testing services at the laboratory, however sampling is not provided beyond County borders.

Types of Water Testing

Microbiological Testing- The most common test for bacteria is known as a "coliform test."  Coliform testing identifies the presence of coliform bacteria (indicator organisms) to determine whether or not your water system is susceptible to contamination by waterborne pathogens.  This is the standard test to determine potability of water supplies.  It is important to note that it does not test for individual pathogens themselves.  See "Coliform Bacteria in Drinking Water Supplies" in the "Water Testing Services & Information" link below for more information.

Nitrate Testing- This type of water testing determines levels of nitrates in drinking water.  Nitrates are common groundwater contaminants from agricultural and other human activities that pose a significant risk to pregnant women and infants.  See "Nitrates in Drinking Water" in the "Water Testing Services & Information" link below for more information.

HUD Testing- Mortgages obtained through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and many other lending institutions may require a suite of tests to determine levels of several inorganic contaminants that may be of concern.  These samples can be arranged and an official report sent to the lending agency.

Water System Disinfection

At times, it may be necessary to disinfect your water system.  The Department recommends that this be done before the first use of seasonal water supplies, whenever your water system becomes submerged due to flooding, or whenever a bacteriological water test indicates contamination.  Step by step instructions for disinfecting your well and plumbing system can be found using the "Water Testing Services & Information" link below.

Forms & Links

Water Testing Services & Information

NYS Sanitary Code - Subpart 5-1, Appendix 5-B: Standards for Water Wells

Individual Water Supply Fact Sheets

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