Drinking Water

Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental part of living an active and healthy life.  Whether you get your water from a public water system or a private well, it is important to understand where your water comes from and be assured that your water is safe and healthy.

Public Water Systems

Drinking water providers continuously monitor public drinking water systems. Most public water systems provide an annual water quality report to their customers.  This report is called a Consumer Confidence Report and is generally available on the system’s webpage or by request. 

If you experience problems with your drinking water quality contact your provider immediately. If you do not know who provides your water, call the closest municipality or the Environmental Health Department to obtain this information. 

To report a water main break, contact your water provider or Summit County Dispatch at 970-668-8600

Private Well Water

Well Head

Private wells supply water to many households in the county.  Sampling for safety and health of this water falls solely on the home owner or tenants shoulders.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the EPA both recommend sampling coliform bacteria and nitrates annually, or whenever a change of quality is observed, at a minimum. 

Summit County Environmental Health provides well water testing for nitrates and coliform bacteria. The water may also be tested for fluoride levels, for an additional fee.  A sterile sample bottle and instructions may be picked up at our office.  Samples should be collected and submitted to our office on the same day.  We accept water to be sampled on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during regular business hours. If the sample is required for Certificate of Occupancy on a Building Permit, the department will retrieve the sample at your property.  See the current Fee Schedule (pdf) for the cost of testing your well water.

If your test results indicate that bacteria are present, disinfection of the well is recommended to return a private well to safe operations.  Homeowners can easily follow these instructions .

PFAS Testing

What is PFAS?

Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals that have been manufactured in a variety of industries around the globe. Exposure to levels of PFAS above health advisory guidelines has been linked to health problems including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, lower birth weight, asthma, high blood pressure, and cancer. Some PFAS persist in the environment, and people can be exposed to these chemicals through air, indoor dust, food, drinking water, and various consumer products.

Fortunately, based on testing data obtained to date from our community drinking water systems, we don’t have any treated drinking water that has the chemicals above the EPA’s health advisory.

Learn more about PFAS:

Identifying PFAS in Groundwater in Summit County

In 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)facilitated the sampling of four hundred community water systems in Colorado, including most in Summit County, and none had levels above the EPA health advisory. A well in Frisco had some PFAS detected so further testing of private wells in the Bill’s Ranch area were offered as part of this project. 

The project involved Summit County Public Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the EPA and you. The goal was to test private wells in the area to learn if per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were in the groundwater of the Bill’s Ranch neighborhood. In total, 12 private wells and Miner’s Creek were sampled. Thirty-one different types of PFAS were tested for in each sample. Thank you for participating in this sampling initiative. 

For all of the samples, test results for each PFAS were below the level the lab can measure PFAS. The lab can measure most PFAS, down to 20 parts per trillion (ppt). There are two substances in the PFAS family called PFOA and PFOS. These are the only two substances in the PFAS family that the EPA has a current health advisory for. That current advisory level is 70 ppt for those two substances combined. So, test results indicate the level of PFOS and PFOA was below the current EPA health advisory of 70 parts per trillion. The health advisory is set to protect the most vulnerable people, such as children, which in turn protects everyone else. Additionally, we tested the surface water in Miner’s Creek and all PFAS were below the level the lab can measure.

What are PFAS and the potential health effects from exposure?

PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals that have been used for decades in products like food packaging, carpets, non-stick products, other household items, medical supplies, and firefighting foam due to their ability to resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. According to EPA, studies indicate exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects. For example, developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants can occur over weeks of exposure (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations). Years to decades of exposure can lead to liver damage, negative immune and thyroid effects, and other health impacts. We know the most about PFOA and PFOS, but there are other chemicals in the PFAS family such as PFHpA, PFHxS, PFBS, and PFNA. These chemicals may have similar impacts on humans. The health impacts of PFAS is the current focus of much research. As new studies become available, our understanding of the health impacts of these chemicals in humans will continue to grow.

What do these test results mean for my health and do I need to do anything?

EPA’s health advisory means drinking water with PFAS levels below the current health advisory is not expected to cause harm. If you are still concerned, please talk to your doctor, learn more about the chemicals, and then consider bottled water or water treated by a reverse osmosis system. Please know bottled water or reverse osmosis systems may not have added benefits that tap water has. Tap water is significantly less expensive than bottled water and does not result in as much plastic waste as bottled water production. 

Where can I get more information?

Scientists continue to study the health impacts of these chemicals. As we keep learning more about how these substances affect health, the current EPA health advisory may be revised. For the most up to date information about PFAS or if you have more questions about PFAS, please visit cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas. If you have additional questions or concerns, contact us at 970-668-4070. 

Identificación de PFAS en aguas subterráneas en el condado de Summit

En el 2020, el Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente de Colorado (CDPHE) facilitó el muestreo de cuatrocientos sistemas de agua comunitarios en Colorado, incluyendo a la mayoría en el condado de Summit, y ninguno tenía niveles por encima del asesoría sanitaria de la EPA. En un pozo en Frisco se detectaron algunos PFAS, por lo que se ofrecen mas pruebas de pozos privados en el área de Bill's Ranch como parte de este proyecto. 

El proyecto involucró a Salud Pública del Condado de Summit, el Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente de Colorado, la EPA y usted. El objetivo era probar pozos privados en el área para saber si las sustancias perfluoro-alquiladas y polifluoroalquiladas, o PFAS, estaban en el agua subterránea del vecindario de Bill's Ranch. En total, se hicieron muestras a 12 pozos privados y se analizó Miner's Creek.  Se les hizo muestra a treinta y un tipos diferentes de PFAS para cada muestra. Gracias por participar en esta iniciativa de muestras. 

Para todas las muestras, los resultados de las pruebas para cada PFAS estuvieron por debajo del nivel que el laboratorio puede medir. El laboratorio puede medir la mayoría de PFAS, hasta 20 partes por billón (ppt). Hay dos sustancias en la familia PFAS llamadas PFOA y PFOS. Estas son las únicas dos sustancias de la familia PFAS para las que la EPA tiene una advertencia de salud actual. Ese nivel de advertencia actual es de 70 ppt para esas dos sustancias combinadas. Por lo tanto, los resultados de las pruebas indican que el nivel de PFOS y PFOA estaba por debajo de la advertencia de salud actual de la EPA de 70 partes por billón. La advertencia de salud está diseñada para proteger a las personas más vulnerables, como los niños, lo que a su vez protege a todos los demás. Además, probamos el agua superficial en Miner's Creek y todos los PFAS estaban por debajo del nivel que el laboratorio puede medir.

¿Cuáles son los PFAS y los posibles efectos en la salud de la exposición?

Los PFAS son una familia de productos químicos artificiales que se han utilizado durante décadas en productos como envases de alimentos, alfombras, productos antiadherentes, otros artículos para el hogar, suministros médicos y espumas contra incendios debido a su capacidad para resistir el calor, el aceite, las manchas, grasa y agua. Según la EPA, los estudios indican que la exposición al PFOA y al PFOS por encima de ciertos niveles puede provocar efectos adversos para la salud. Por ejemplo, los efectos sobre el desarrollo de los fetos durante el embarazo o de los bebés amamantados pueden ocurrir durante semanas de exposición (p. Ej., Bajo peso al nacer, pubertad acelerada, variaciones esqueléticas). Años o décadas de exposición pueden provocar daño hepático, efectos inmunológicos y de la tiroides negativos y otros impactos en la salud. Sabemos lo bastante de PFOA y PFOS, pero hay otras sustancias químicas en la familia de PFAS como PFHpA, PFHxS, PFBS y PFNA. Estos productos químicos pueden tener impactos similares en los humanos. Los impactos en la salud de PFAS son el foco actual de muchas investigaciones. A medida que se disponga de nuevos estudios, nuestra comprensión de los impactos en la salud de estos productos químicos en los seres humanos seguirá aumentando.

¿Qué significan los resultados de estas pruebas para mi salud? ¿Tengo que hacer algo?

El aviso de salud de la EPA significa que no se espera que el agua potable con niveles de PFAS por debajo de la advertencia de salud actual cause daño. Si todavía está preocupado, hable con su médico, obtenga más información sobre los productos químicos y luego considere el agua embotellada o el agua tratada con un sistema de ósmosis inversa. Tenga en cuenta que el agua embotellada o los sistemas de ósmosis inversa pueden no tener los beneficios adicionales que tiene el agua de la llave. El agua de la llaveo es significativamente menos costosa que el agua embotellada y no genera tanto desperdicio de plástico como la producción de agua embotellada. 

¿Dónde puedo obtener más información?

Los científicos continúan estudiando los impactos en la salud de estos químicos. A medida que seguimos aprendiendo más sobre cómo estas sustancias afectan la salud, es posible que se revise la advertencia de salud actual de la EPA. Para obtener la información más actualizada sobre PFAS o si tiene más preguntas sobre PFAS, visite cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas. Si tiene preguntas o inquietudes adicionales, comuníquese con nosotros al 970-668-4070. 

Coliform Bacteria and Nitrates in Drinking Water

Coliform bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment from the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans, and are used to indicate possible contamination. 

Nitrates are very persistent within the environment, and do not remain confined within the soil matrix so the potential is high for them to be found in ground water. Sources include failing onsite waste water treatment systems (septic systems), agricultural runoff, and other various human influences.  The primary health concern surrounding high nitrate levels is methemoglobinemia, more commonly known as “Blue Baby Syndrome”.  Young infants (<6 months of age) are particularly sensitive to the effects of nitrite on hemoglobin due to formula prepared with drinking water that contains nitrate levels higher than recommended limits, 10 ppm. Environmental Health studies area nitrate levels to reflect human influence on the groundwater.

Summit County Private Well Nitrate Concentrations

The background level of nitrates in Colorado groundwater is thought to be on average 2.5 ppm. In Summit County in particular, we have observed an average concentration of 1.5 ppm with a max concentration of 19.6 ppm. For reference, 1 ppm is roughly equal to 1 drop of water in a large kitchen garbage can full of water.

Click on the map to view a compilation of nitrate concentration data collected from private well samples from 1995-2019.

Fluoride in Drinking Water

Fluoride can naturally occur in water. While it is a beneficial element for 
oral health, too much can be harmful. It is important to know if your water has too much or too little. If you are on a public water system, you can contact your supplier to determine how much fluoride is in your water. For homes on private wells, Homeowners can expect to see a small amount of naturally occurring background fluoride in their water due to our active geology.

Well Inspections

A lender may require that a well be inspected for the purposes of real estate transaction. The Environmental Health Department can conduct inspections of existing water wells.  These inspections include testing of the water for coliform bacteria and nitrates as well as a visual inspection of the well head and surrounding area.  To request this inspection please complete the Well
 Inspection Form and submit it to this department, along with the fee required. 

If you wish to have the mechanics of your well inspected we suggest you arrange that with a well drilling or pump servicing company.
For more information on private wells check out the following links:
Well Owner Maintenance Practices
Well Owner Information

If you wish to test for items other than coliform bacteria and nitrates please consult the state lab.

Well Water Permits


Permits for wells in Summit County are obtained through the Colorado Department of Natural Resources in Denver. Please call (303) 866-3587 and ask for the Division of Water Resources, Water Well Permitting Section, or search online for Well Permit Records.

For questions regarding well water augmentation and buying additional water rights please contact the Summit County Manager's Office.