USDA and Well Water Tests

An inspector from the local health department or a laboratory certified by the state takes water samples for testing. State laboratories performing analyses of drinking water compliance samples must meet the minimum criteria established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to qualify for certification.

Well water samples are tested for the presence of coliform bacteria, lead and nitrates. Certain bacteria present in drinking water can transmit infectious diseases. Analyzing water quality may also include testing for arsenic, mercury and other harmful chemicals and contaminants depending on where the home is located. Elevated levels of these contaminants in drinking water can lead to a wide range of health problems.

Whenever USDA Loans or RD loans are made to purchase, construct or repair dwellings with private water systems, it is required that the seller, builder or applicant furnish a satisfactory water test to the Area Specialist.  Water samples must be taken as directed by the testing laboratory to insure accuracy of the tests.

The water sample cannot be drawn by the buyer or the seller in the transaction.

The following tests are required by Rural Development:

  1.  Coliform (total)
  2. Nitrate Nitrogen
  3. Lead
  4. Arsenic (only needed on new wells)


The testing laboratory report will indicate those tests that are unsatisfactory and make recommendations for correction.

Below are some examples of a satisfactory test…“water is considered bacteriologically potable”, “all tests are performed in accordance w/ NELAC standards”(Florida health Dept.), “is satisfactory for drinking water supply”, “this water sample meets the standards set by the state health department”, “the analyses were conducted using methods approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

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4 thoughts on “USDA and Well Water Tests

  1. My daughter is working on getting a USDA Loan. Per water test by private lab – the nitrites were too high to pass for a loan. She invested a lot of money in an ionic osmosis system and the retest again show high nitrates. We are questioning the validity of the tests performed by the private lab and would like this test by another lab. What approach needs to be taken to make sure the testing is performed in a manner acceptable by USDA? What other options are there?

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