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.  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.

Learn more about PFAS:

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.

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 that was in effect at the time . 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 Bill's Ranch project involved Summit County Public Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the EPA and residents. 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 used can measure most PFAS substances 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 had a  health advisory for at the time of sampling. When the public water system sampling was done in 2020 and the Bill’s Ranch sampling was done in 2021, the advisory level was 70 ppt for those two substances combined. So, test results indicated that the level of PFOS and PFOA was below the  EPA health advisory of 70 parts per trillion that existed at that time. EPA’s lifetime health advisory levels offer protection for people from adverse health effects resulting from exposure throughout their lives to these PFAS in drinking water. The health advisory is set to protect the most vulnerable people, such as children, which in turn protects everyone else. Public water systems are not required to meet these levels and there are currently no required limits for PFAS.

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 (which may or may not be tested for PFAS) or water treated to remove PFAS such as a reverse osmosis system or granulated activated charcoal 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 further revised, added to or the EPA may create a maximum level that public water systems must maintain. 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.

Update: On June 15, 2022, the EPA released updated Health Advisory for PFAS.  The new advisories are:

            Interim updated health advisory for PFOA = 0.004 ppt

            Interim updated health advisory for PFOS = 0.02 ppt

            Final health advisory for GenX chemicals = 10 ppt

            Final health advisory for PFBS = 2,000 ppt

These values are much lower than the previous advisory. Summit County Environmental Health is working with CDPHE on how this change effects Summit County residents and visitors that drink water from public water systems as well as those on private wells.  We will share information is it becomes available.  

How do I know what the PFAS levels are in my drinking water??

If you are on a public water system- You may be able to view your water system’s testing results on the CDPHE webpage . If you do not see your system listed, you can call your system administrator to ask them if they have tested and if they haven’t, whether they will.

If you are on a private well- You can contact the CDPHE PFAS sampling program to request sampling of your well.  They will assess the risk associated with your well and you may be chosen to receive free sampling.  

Pruebas PFA

¿Qué es PFAS?

Las sustancias de perfluoroalquilo (PFAS) son un grupo de productos químicos artificiales que se han fabricado en una variedad de industrias en todo el mundo. La exposición a niveles de PFAS por encima de las pautas de asesoramiento de salud se ha relacionado con problemas de salud que incluyen daño hepático, enfermedad de la tiroides, disminución de la fertilidad, bajo peso de los bebés al nacer, asma, presión arterial alta y cáncer. Algunos PFAS persisten en el medio ambiente y las personas pueden estar expuestas a estos productos químicos a través del aire, el polvo en los interiores, los alimentos, el agua potable y diversos productos de consumo.

Obtenga más información sobre PFAS:

¿Qué son las PFAS y los efectos potenciales para la salud de la exposición?

  • Los PFAS son una familia de productos químicos fabricados por el hombre que se han utilizado durante décadas en productos como envases de alimentos, alfombras, productos antiadherentes, otros artículos para el hogar, suministros médicos y espuma 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 a ciertos niveles de PFOA y PFOS puede tener efectos adversos para la salud. Por ejemplo, los efectos en 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 negativos en el sistema inmunológico y la tiroides, y otros impactos en la salud. Sabemos más sobre PFOA y PFOS, pero hay otras sustancias químicas en la familia PFAS como PFHpA, PFHxS, PFBS y PFNA. Estos 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 creciendo.

En 2020, el Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente de Colorado (CDPHE, por sus siglas en inglés) facilitó el muestreo de cuatrocientos sistemas de agua comunitarios en Colorado, incluida la mayoría en el condado de Summit, y ninguno tenía niveles por encima del aviso de salud de la EPA que fue vigente en ese momento. Se detectó algo de PFAS en un pozo en Frisco, por lo que se ofrecieron más pruebas de pozos privados en el área de Bill's Ranch como parte de este proyecto. 

El proyecto de Bill's Ranch involucró a Salud Pública del Condado de Summit, el Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente de Colorado, la EPA y los residentes. El objetivo era probar pozos privados en el área para saber si las sustancias de perfluoroalquilo y polifluoroalquilo, o PFAS, estaban en el agua subterránea del vecindario de Bill's Ranch. En total, se tomaron muestras de 12 pozos privados y Miner's Creek. Se analizaron treinta y un tipos diferentes de PFAS en cada muestra. Gracias por participar en esta iniciativa de muestreo. 

Para todas las muestras, los resultados de las pruebas para cada PFAS estaban por debajo del nivel que el laboratorio puede medir PFAS. El laboratorio utilizado puede medir la mayoría de las sustancias PFAS hasta 20 partes por trillón (ppt). Hay dos sustancias en la familia PFAS llamadas PFOA y PFOS. Estas son las únicas dos sustancias en la familia de PFAS para las que la EPA tenía un aviso de salud en el momento del muestreo. Cuando se realizó el muestreo del sistema público de agua en 2020 y el muestreo de Bill's Ranch en 2021, el nivel de advertencia fue de 70 ppt para esas dos sustancias combinadas. Entonces, los resultados de las pruebas indicaron que el nivel de PFOS y PFOA estaba por debajo del aviso de salud de la EPA de 70 partes por billón que existía en ese momento. Los niveles de advertencia de salud de por vida de la EPA ofrecen protección a las personas contra los efectos adversos para la salud que resultan de la exposición durante toda su vida a estos PFAS en el agua potable. La alerta de salud está configurada para proteger a las personas más vulnerables, como los niños, lo que a su vez protege a todos los demás. Los sistemas públicos de agua no están obligados a cumplir con estos niveles y actualmente no hay límites requeridos para PFAS. 

¿Qué significan los resultados de estas pruebas para mi salud?

¿Debo hacer algo?

El aviso de salud de la EPA significa que no se espera que el agua potable con niveles de PFAS por debajo del aviso 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 (que puede o no ser analizada para detectar PFAS) o agua tratada para eliminar PFAS, como un sistema de ósmosis inversa o carbón activado granulado. sistema. Tenga en cuenta que es posible que los sistemas de agua embotellada o de ósmosis inversa no tengan los beneficios adicionales que tiene el agua del grifo. El agua del grifo es significativamente menos costosa que el agua embotellada y no genera tantos desechos plásticos 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 aprendemos más sobre cómo estas sustancias afectan la salud, La alerta de salud actual de la EPA puede revisarse o agregarse, o la EPA puede crear un nivel máximo que los sistemas públicos de agua deben mantener. 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.

Actualización: el 15 de junio de 2022, la EPA publicó un aviso de salud actualizado para PFAS. Los nuevos avisos son: 

Aviso de salud provisional actualizado para PFOA = 0,004 ppt Aviso de salud provisional actualizado para PFOS = 0,02 ppt

Aviso de salud final para productos químicos GenX = 10 ppt Aviso de salud final para PFBS = 2000 ppt

Estos valores son mucho más bajos que el aviso anterior. El Departamento de Salud Ambiental del Condado de Summit está trabajando con CDPHE sobre cómo este cambio afecta a los residentes y visitantes del Condado de Summit que beben agua de los sistemas públicos de agua, así como de pozos privados. Compartiremos información si está disponible.

¿Cómo sé cuáles son los niveles de PFAS en mi agua potable?

 Si está en un sistema público de agua, es posible que pueda ver los resultados de las pruebas de su sistema de agua en la CDPHE. Si no ve su sistema en la lista, puede llamar al administrador del sistema para preguntarle si lo ha probado y si no lo ha hecho, si lo hará.

Si tiene en un pozo privado, puede comunicarse con el muestreo CDPHE PFAS para solicitar el muestreo de su pozo. Evaluarán el riesgo asociado con su pozo y es posible que lo elijan para recibir muestras gratuitas.




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.