Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health
5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment
5.2.6 Water Supply and Plumbing
220.127.116.11: Testing of Drinking Water Not From Public System
If an early care and education program’s drinking water does not come from a public water system, the water source should be approved and tested every year, or as required by the local health department, for bacteriologic quality, nitrates, total dissolved solids, pH levels, and other water quality indicators.1,2 Early care and education programs with infants 6 months or younger should get water tested for nitrate regularly.2
Drinking water from nonpublic sources includes private or household wells or rainwater collection systems (ie, cisterns).
Testing of private water supplies should be completed by a state-certified laboratory. Most testing laboratories or services supply their own sample containers. Samples for bacteriologic testing must be collected in sterile containers and under sterile conditions. Laboratories may sometimes send a trained technician to collect the sample. For more information, contact the local health authority or view the US Environmental Protection Agency list of state certification programs.3
After a disaster such as a flood, earthquake, or chemical spill, drinking water systems can become contaminated. Routine or new testing should be done to ensure safe drinking water.1
Public water systems are responsible for complying with all regulations, including monitoring, reporting, and performing treatment techniques. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulations do not apply to privately owned drinking water systems. Individual owners and operators of the water system are responsible for ensuring the water is safe.4
Unsafe water supplies may cause acute illness, such as diarrhea from microorganisms, or other health problems that are harder to identify and have long-lasting health effects. Chemicals can contaminate nonpublic water supplies from a variety of sources, and water quality testing is often the only way to identify the contamination. Some contamination can come from naturally occurring contaminants, such as arsenic, in groundwater. Other chemicals, such as pesticides, can enter drinking water systems from past or adjacent site use.5 Many of these contaminants cannot be detected via smell, taste, or color.
Infants younger than 6 months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the maximum concentration limit of 10 mg/L could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die.2
Regular testing is valuable because it establishes a record of water quality. A water supply that is safe and free of harmful substances and microorganisms and does not spread disease is essential to the health of children enrolled in early care and education programs.
Contamination of nonpublic drinking water supplies may occur after disasters, and additional or repeat testing of water may be necessary to ensure drinking water quality.1 The types of potential drinking water contamination may vary by disaster. State and local health officials may be helpful in determining if water testing is needed after a disaster.
COMMENTSPublic water systems are responsible for complying with all regulations, including monitoring, reporting, and performing treatment techniques. Testing of private water supplies should be completed by a state certified laboratory (1). Most testing laboratories or services supply their own sample containers. Samples for bacteriological testing must be collected in sterile containers and under sterile conditions. Laboratories may sometimes send a trained technician to collect the sample. For further information, contact the local health authority or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
TYPE OF FACILITYCenter, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS18.104.22.168 Water Supply
22.214.171.124 Testing for Lead and Copper Levels in Drinking Water
126.96.36.199 Water Test Results
US Environmental Protection Agency. Protecting your home’s water. Testing wells to safeguard your water. https://www.epa.gov/privatewells/protect-your-homes-water#how. Updated August 8, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020
US Environmental Protection Agency. Potential well water contaminants and their impacts. https://www.epa.gov/privatewells/potential-well-water-contaminants-and-their-impacts. Updated August 8, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020
US Environmental Protection Agency. Certification of laboratories for drinking water. Contact information for certification programs and certified laboratories for drinking water. https://www.epa.gov/dwlabcert/contact-information-certification-programs-and-certified-laboratories-drinking-water. Updated March 26, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2020
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking water. Private water systems. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/index.html. Reviewed January 17, 2014. Accessed May 18, 2020
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSPECE) Guidance Manual. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/safeplacesforECE/cspece_guidance/index.html. Reviewed October 30, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2020
Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/27/2020