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Drinking water

Private drinking water systems
Several thousand homes in Garfield County rely on private drinking water systems. The large majority of Garfield County private water supplies come from groundwater wells; however, some homeowners also rely on springs or water hauled from other locations for delivery to a cistern. Private water systems in Colorado are not regulated for safety or water quality. Therefore, owners of private water systems are responsible for taking special precautions to ensure protection and safety of their drinking water supplies.

Potential contaminants
Contamination of private water systems can occur naturally or as a result of human activity. Contaminants typically fall into several key categories including microorganisms, radionuclides, organic and inorganic chemicals, and heavy metals.  Many of these are found in ground and surface water in levels that are not harmful to human health. The only way to know the quality and safety of a private water supply is to have it regularly tested.

Reducing risks to groundwater supplies

There are four keys to preventing risk of contaminating a private water system:

  • Proper well/water source location and construction
  • Regular water system maintenance
  • Water testing and treatment
  • Groundwater protection

The resource links in the right hand column of this page provide a number of very good information sources regarding private water systems.

Numerous water quality testing labs are located in Colorado. The Mesa County Regional Laboratory can only test for coliform bacteria, which is typically an adequate measure for real estate transactions. Contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Laboratory Services Division (CDPHE) for a greater breadth of chemical analysis such as heavy metals, radionuclides, organic and inorganic compounds. Additionally, a courier service for shipping samples to the CDPHE laboratory can be arranged by contacting Garfield County Public Health.

Public drinking water systems
Many of our municipal drinking water systems depend almost entirely on surface water for their supply. CDPHE regulates public drinking water systems in Garfield County. Colorado has established standards for public drinking water quality and rules that require regular sampling of water and public reporting of both violations of standards and Consumer Confidence reports.


In an effort to provide many of our local public water system operators with tools to reduce the risk of water supply contamination, Garfield County Public Health is working with the Colorado Rural Water Association and local stakeholders to develop a number of Source Water Assessment and Protection Plans. These plans can cover areas that range in size from small homeowners associations to larger municipalities. A steering committee for a Source Water Protection Plan will delineate source water protection areas, identify potential sources of contamination and develop a plan that works to reduce risks of potential contamination. Implementation of the plan is monitored long-term for its effectiveness and is updated accordingly.

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Public Health - Rifle
195 West 14th Street
Rifle, CO 81650
Email Public Health


970-625-5200 | phone
970-625-4804 | fax

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  Public Health - Glenwood Springs
2014 Blake Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Email Public Health


970-945-6614 | phone
970-947-0155 | fax

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