Well Water in Rural Communities

Improving the safety of federally unregulated private wells

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulates the nation’s public drinking water supply, safeguarding drinking water for most US residents — but it does not apply to all drinking water sources.

Ensuring safe drinking water for all US residents is a crucial component of creating healthy, equitable communities across the nation. However, over 40 million Americans — approximately 12% of the US population — rely on federally unregulated private wells for drinking water. These residents are more likely to be exposed to harmful bacteria or unsafe levels of nitrates and arsenic, which can lead to inequities and serious health consequences for families and entire communities.

With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ChangeLab Solutions developed this suite of resources for environmental and public health professionals who want to use policy to promote safer drinking water in federally unregulated wells.

Use the resources highlighted below to learn more about how drinking water is regulated in the United States, see how other jurisdictions are working to close the water quality gap, dive into the policymaking process, and understand how state-level policies can affect all aspects of private well water systems.

Closing the Water Quality Gap Feature
Closing the Water Quality Gap
This guide shows how health departments can use policy change to ensure safe drinking water for people who use private wells.
Improving Well Water Quality Case Study Feature
Improving Well Water Quality & Well Stewardship
Four case studies explore key steps that state and local public health agencies can take to effect changes in water policies, systems, and environments.
Navigating Unfamiliar Waters
Navigating Unfamiliar Waters
Building on the next steps introduced in Closing the Water Quality Gap, this guide provides tools that environmental and public health professionals can use to make policy change.
From Source to Tap
From Source to Tap
This fact sheet and infographic show environmental and public health professionals how state-level policy tools can apply to each physical component of private well systems.