Environmental Health

Drinking Water

Protect your water supply—enjoy good health.

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Water source

If you live in a city or town, your water likely comes from a large municipal water system. Residents—outside city limits—get water from small water systems or individual wells.

Types of water systems

Individual well

  • One well serving a single family home.

Public water system

  • A system serving more than one household.
  • A system serving a commercial establishment (school, park, church, business, etc.)
  • Large water systems (Group A)
    • Serves 15 or more connections.
    • Serves population greater than 25.
  • Small water systems (Group B)
    • Serves 2-14 connections.
    • Serves population less than 25.

Group A and Group B systems are regulated through Washington State Department of Health.

Still unsure about where you water comes from?

  • Check your water bill (name, phone number.)
  • Ask your neighbors.
  • Contact us.

Drinking water quality

The EPA identifies contaminants regulated in public drinking water to protect public health. To view public drinking water standards, visit the EPA's website.

Water quality in your neighborhood

If you are on a public water supply, contact your water operator for the most recent Consumer Confidence Reports.

PFAs levels for tested public drinking water systems can be viewed here.

What are PFAs?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large family of human-made chemicals used to make a wide variety of stain-resistant, water-resistant, and non-stick consumer products. PFAS also have many industrial uses because of their special properties. In Washington, PFAS have been used in certain types of firefighting foams used by the U.S. military, local fire departments, and airports. PFAS are sometimes called "forever chemicals" because they stay in the environment for a very long time. Some types of PFAS could harm human health if they build up to high enough levels in your body. Taking action to reduce exposure is especially important for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding, infants, and young children. These groups may be especially sensitive to harmful effects of PFAS.

PFAs in your water?

If PFAS are found in water, exposure can be lowered by installing a water filter that reduces PFAS in water used for cooking, drinking, and preparing infant formula. Filters come in different styles and can treat water at the kitchen sink, refrigerator, or in a countertop water pitcher. People can also use bottled water labeled as “purified” as a short-term alternative.

Water quality of your existing well

Water quality standards for domestic wells are still of concern, but regulation is limited.

Group B water systems and private well owners, which currently are not required by the state to test for PFAS, can use the dashboard to see if PFAS have been detected nearby to help decide whether to test for PFAS.

Ongoing testing of domestic wells is encouraged for property owners, even when not required. Nitrate and Total Coliform are the contaminants of concern in Whitman County. Submit your tests to a certified water testing laboratory.

The following laboratories are the closest options to Whitman County:

Anatek Labs, Inc.
1282 Alturas Drive, Moscow, ID 83843

Anatek Labs, Inc.
504 E. Sprague Suite D, Spokane WA 99202

AAA Superior Laboratory
404 First Street, Cheney, WA 99004

Be sure to follow proper protocols when sampling your drinking water.

If your water tests results for Nitrate or Total Coliform exceed state standards, it is recommended you disinfect your well and retest. General well disinfection can vary based on the contaminant and surrounding area. Basic "shocking" techniques are often used before retesting for total coliform.

Water Supply

Washington State's Department of Ecology manages the state's water supply

Water Rights

Most public water sources have permitted water right. A water right is the legal authorization to use a quantity of water for beneficial uses.

Water rights are issued by Washington State's Department of Ecology.

Withdrawal Exemptions

Most individual well water sources operate under a withdrawal exemption.

Drilling a Well

Visit the Department of Ecology below for information on well construction & licensing information, and contract with a licensed well driller.

Proof of Safety for Wells

Once a drinking water source is established, Whitman County Public Health requires the water be tested for Nitrate and Total Coliform to ensure safety.

Test results from an accredited lab must be sent to Whitman County Public Health before permits are issued. Results must indicate that the drinking water source is safe.

Information last updated on