Public health agency for Snohomish County
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Drinking Water
The primary focus of the Water Program is on drinking water and to make sure that the citizens of rural Snohomish County have access to safe and reliable water. Through the review of proposed well locations, well construction inspection, and water quality testing, the Drinking Water Program works with citizens and industry alike to achieve this goal. In coordination with Snohomish County Planning and Development Services the Drinking Water Program ensures that an adequate and potable source of water is available to proposed residences prior to construction.
Water Testing
The water that you drink should be free of any bacteria or chemical contaminants. Your water should be clear, free of odor and particulates and have no taste. However, you can’t necessarily see or taste contaminants, so we recommend routine testing of your water.
Snohomish Health District can assist you with the following tests:
  • Bacteria
    The presence of coliform bacteria is an excellent indicator of contamination of water supplies. These bacteria are widely distributed throughout the environment in soil, on plants, on animal, and in very large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals. When coliform bacteria are present, it means water has been exposed to one or more of these sources.
  • Inorganic Chemicals
    Inorganic chemicals are widespread in the environment. Concentrations which exceed nationally standardized levels may be due to human activities or natural conditions or both. Levels of most inorganic chemicals are greatly influenced by types of soil, rock and minerals present. The primary inorganic chemicals include arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, sodium, fluoride and nitrate.
    Note: Test results of the above chemicals (SHD short list) must be submitted prior to issuance of a building permit for new construction.
  • Other Available Tests
    You can also request individual tests for the following: Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Selenium, Silver, Nitrate, Fluoride, Sodium, Chloride, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Sulfate, Zinc, Hardness, Turbidity, pH
Testing Procedures
In order to test for contaminants, you need to first obtain the proper testing bottle from the Health District. Samples can not be collected in any other container.
The timing of the collection is important, too. If you take the water sample before 8:00 am you must return it by 9:00 am the same day. If you take your water sample after 8:00 am you must return if by 9:00 am the next day. Friday samples must be in by 9:00 am.
You may contact any accredited lab to order tests independently. Washington State Department Of Ecology: Search for an Accredited Laboratory maintains a database of all accredited labs.
Interpreting the Results
To learn more about what the results of your water test mean, read the following document: Understanding Your Water Test Report: Microbiological, Chemical and Nuisance Contaminants
Water Wells
Proper well construction and continued maintenance are keys to the safety of your water supply.
If you know what type of well you have and you want to learn more about the structure of the well, see the Dug Wells and Drilled Wells in the Well Resources section below. If you don’t know what kind of well you have, see the Well Logs in the Well Resources section below. The Well Logs allows you to look up your own well log and find out what kind of well you have, how deep your well is, and who drilled or dug the well.
Well Drillers
Well drillers must have a valid Water Well Construction and Operator's License from the Department of Ecology in order to operate in Snohomish County. See the Well Construction and Licensing System in the Resources section below to search for drillers.
Carpenter-Fisher Subbasin
The Washington State Department of Ecology has closed the Carpenter-Fisher subbasin in north Snohomish County to new groundwater withdrawals. See the Carpenter-Fisher link in the Resources section below for more information on Ecologys website.
Private Wells Process and Procedure
List of Snohomish Health District Process and Procedures regarding Public and Private Wells:
Approval of Two Connection Residential Water Systems (7.1.3)
Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
Determining Maximum Contaminant Level - Individual Water Supply (7.1.3)
Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
Growth Management Act - Adequate Water Supply for Building Permit (7.1.3)
Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
Recommended Procedure for Disinfection of Wells (7.1.3)
Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
Well Resources
List of Well Resources:
  1. Department of Health Drinking Water  web
    WA DOH Drinking Water
  2. Drilled Wells  web
    United States Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Dug Wells  web
    United States Environmental Protection Agency
  4. Water Resources  web
    Washington State Department Of Ecology
  5. Well Construction and Licensing System  web
    Washington State Department of Ecology
  6. Well Construction for Well Drillers  web
    Washington State Department Of Ecology
  7. Well Logs  web
    Washington State Department of Ecology
Arsenic Information
Arsenic is a mineral commonly found in the environment. Arsenic is naturally occurring and can be found in soils, bedrock and groundwater.
Studies show that concentrations of arsenic in groundwater can change over time. When it occurs in groundwater wells, arsenic can pose a public health concern. Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the MCL over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system and may have an increased risk of cancer.
Given the health concerns associated with arsenic, the widespread presence of arsenic in wells throughout Snohomish County, and the variability in the levels of arsenic over time, it is recommended that periodic water testing be conducted to insure that established safe drinking water levels for arsenic are not exceeded.
Water quality testing for arsenic is available through the SHD. Contact our office for current fees. For Comprehensive arsenic information see the Arsenic in Drinking Water in the Arsenic Resources section below.
Arsenic Resources
List of Arsenic Resources:
  1. Arsenic in Drinking Water  web
    WA DOH Division of Environmental Health Office of Drinking Water
  2. Arsenic in Drinking Water  web
    United States Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Questions & Answers: Arsenic in drinking water  web
    WA DOH Environmental Health
  4. Well Water Arsenic Disclosure  file
    Well Water Arsenic Disclosure
Rules and Regulations
The following documents contain all guidelines used to regulate private well and small water system quality in Snohomish County.
If you have any questions regarding the content or application of information in these documents, please contact our office.
Policy Regarding Non-pressurized Storage Tanks for Individual Water Supplies (7.1.5)
Snohomish Health District, Environmental Health
Snohomish Health District Sanitary Code, Chapter 9 (5)
The Sanitary Code is governed by the Snohomish Health District Board of Health
WAC 173-160: Minimum standards for construction and maintenance of wells (7.1.5)
Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 173-160, Minimum Standards for Construction and Maintenance of Wells
Complaints
The Snohomish Health District will investigate a complaint or problem with a private well or small public water system.
How To Report a problem with a private well or small public water system
Complete the Water Complaint Form and send it to:
Environmental Health Division,
Water Program
3020 Rucker Avenue, Suite 104
Everett, WA 98201-3900

OR email the completed form to: wwwquestions@snohd.org
The complaint will remain anonymous. The person filing the complaint will receive a reply regarding the situation after the initial investigation is complete. If you would like to contact Snohomish County Health District, please call 425.339.5250.
Contact Info
Phone: 425.339.5250
Email: wwwquestions@snohd.org
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (Closed noon – 1:00 pm)
Resources
List of Water Resources:
  1. Determining Maximum Contaminant Level Individual Water Supply  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  2. Drinking Water Advisories: Arsenic in Drinking Water  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  3. Drinking Water Advisories: Nitrate in Drinking Water  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  4. Drinking Water Advisories: Sodium in Drinking Water  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  5. Emergency Flood Sanitation  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  6. Report on Bacteriological Analysis of Drinking Water  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  7. Report on Unsatisfactory Water Sample Results  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  8. Understanding Your Water Test Report: Microbiological, Chemical and Nuisance Contaminants  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division
  9. Water Sampling for Bacteriological Quality  file
    Snohomish Health District - Environmental Health Division


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