Caring for Our Childen (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.6 Water Supply and Plumbing Testing of Drinking Water Not From Public System

If the facility’s drinking water does not come from a public water system, or the facility gets the drinking water from a household well, programs should test the water every year or as required by the local health department, for bacteriological quality, nitrates, total dissolved solids, pH levels, and other water quality indicators as required by the local health department. Testing for nitrate is especially important if there are infants under six months of age in care.
Drinking water sources should be approved by the local health department. If a child care facility does not receive drinking water from a public water system, the child care operator should ensure that the drinking water is safe. Unsafe water supplies may cause illness or other problems (1) and contain bacteria and parasites. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the maximum concentration limit of ten milligrams per liter could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome (methemoglobinia) (2). Even if a private water supply is safe, regular testing is valuable because it establishes a record of water quality.
Public 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).
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Water Supply Testing for Lead and Copper Levels in Drinking Water Water Test Results
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2005. Home water testing. Washington, DC: EPA, Office of Water.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Policy statement: Drinking water from private wells and risks to children. Pediatrics 123:1599-1605.