Common Drinking Water Topics
A document containing a list of Nevada-approved water laboratories can be found at https://ndep.nv.gov/water/lab-certification/drinking-water-testing
Prior to dropping off a sample, contact a laboratory of your choosing to coordinate picking up an approved sampling container. Utilizing an unapproved sample container may ruin a lab analysis, costing you valuable resources and time.
You may also compare your analytical report to water utility companies in your area. All Nevada utility compliance information is available online at https://ndwis.ndep.nv.gov/DWW.
Every municipal water supply within Clark County, Nevada, either meets or exceeds Safe Drinking Water Act standards and expectations.
Although the Southern Nevada Health District shares authority over the Safe Drinking Water Act, at this time the Health District is not the authority for domestic plumbing and associated appurtenances including elective point of entry or point of use water treatment devices. This is in line with most health districts/departments in the United States. Ultimately, plumbing authority is reserved for each municipal building department via their civil and mechanical engineering/plumbing permit authority.
We strongly encourage every business patron to conduct their own research before purchasing and using any appurtenances or devices for plumbing and water treatment. Many manufacturers will be more than pleased to provide great amounts of literature to aid their customers with that research. Ultimately, every consumer and property owner is sovereignly responsible for ensuring their plumbing modifications do not degrade their approved plumbing system and do not harm or endanger human health.
The following are a few independent consumer standards to consider while reviewing manufacturer literature toward making a decision for plumbing and water treatment equipment:
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification (link to website)
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certification
- Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) Chapter 6 certification (indicates if a product is safe for potable water; often used as a shorthand or substitute for NSF/ANSI)
- Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification (link to website)
- American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) certification
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification (e.g. link to 13.060)
Should you wish to have your water tested, utilize a certified laboratory such as those linked here to independently contract their services. They would be testing for the same water quality standards expected of a municipal water supply.
Prior to installation, consult with your municipal building department regarding any plumbing permits; often minor filters don’t require a permit, yet that conclusion would be deferred to their respective office.
Table, American National Standards Institute and National Sanitation Foundation International Standards (ANSI/NSF):
|14||Plastics piping system components and related materials|
|42||Treatment of water quality for aesthetic effects|
|44||Cation Exchange Water Softeners|
|51||Plastic Materials and Components Used in Food Equipment (“food grade”)|
|53||Drinking water treatment units – Health effects (“consumer” not necessarily a PWS)|
|55||Ultraviolet light water disinfection|
|58||Reverse osmosis drinking water treatment systems|
|60||Drinking water treatment chemicals – Health Effects|
|61||Drinking water system components – Health Effects|
|372||Drinking water system components – Lead Content|
Table, Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) standards for Water Supply and Distribution (aka “UPC Chapter 6”)
|609||Disinfection of Potable Water System (must use NSF 60 disinfectant solution)|
|610||Size of Potable Water Piping|
|611||Drinking Water Treatment Units|
Our office has recorded these “sewer smell” issues being correlated to at least two common events.
The first event can be associated with the replacement of a hot water heater. The sewer smell (from sulfur-reducing bacteria) is a by-product of bacteria that were present within the water heater before the water heater’s commissioning. The destruction of those bacteria can be achieved through conformance with the disinfection procedures outlined within the Uniform Plumbing Code’s Chapter 6.
The second event occurs from the by-product of bacteria in the P-trap. The P-trap develops a biofilm over time. That biofilm provides a food source and medium of growth for the bacteria. Unless the biofilm is removed, either chemically or mechanically, the reduced sulfur smell will exit up through the P-trap whenever the water in the P-trap is disturbed. This correlation typically leads the observer to assume the smell is coming from the water exiting a faucet rather than from the water collected in the P-trap.
Either of these events may be occurring in plumbing where a sewer (rotten egg/sulfur smell) is present. Due to the isolated nature of these events, management offices will not likely receive complaints from other tenants. This is because the isolated events arise from the activities in the water system or sewer system of the effected apartment. This would not be a complex wide issue or a water main issue.
If you are looking into the installation of a reverse osmosis system. you may have deduced by now that the reduced sulfur smell is an issue which can be fixed/remedied with basic maintenance practices. Using a reverse osmosis system will not fix the source of this issue; it will merely mask the issue and require a commitment to replacing reverse osmosis system filters. Additionally, reverse osmosis systems are resource intensive and require on average 10 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of final reverse osmosis filtered water. Depending upon use, this may increase a water bill, further adding to the operational cost commitment.
Overall, our office recommends your management office addresses the two types of events we have outlined to remedy this issue: follow the Uniform Plumbing Codes Chapter 6 to disinfect the hot water heater and the hot water pipes that lead from the water heater; and clean out the P-traps in the affected apartment. We hope you have found this information informative, and you are always welcome to contact us with any questions. We are also interested in determining if these solutions correct this reduced sulfur issue and look forward to hearing from you about the final results.
Our office does not recommend residents or visitors drink, consume or cook ground water with nitrate concentrations exceeding the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of nitrate. This MCL is based upon research carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate and/or nitrite in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. These risks also affect nursing mothers and unborn infants. To address this issue, our office recommends the well owner and other users of the contaminated water well establish a contingency plan that includes, at minimum, the following items:
- A procedure to collect a confirmation water sample for nitrate within 24 hours of receiving the analytical results, of the original sample, from the laboratory.
- Preparation of a Do Not Drink Notice to all parcels serviced by the contaminated water well.
- Corrective action plan: In the event that the nitrate level continues to exceed the MCL, a corrective action plan will aid the well owner in outlining their approach. The plan should address the following:
- Acquisition of another suitable supply of water;
- Treatment of the source water under the supervision of a Clark County contractor or plumber familiar with Chapter 6 of the Uniform Plumbing Code and National Sanitation Foundation private domestic treatment plant standards;
- Consolidation with an adjacent public water system that provides water of sufficient quantity and quality; or
- Any other actions sufficient to return bring nitrate concentrations below 10 mg/L.
Recommendation 3b may be addressed using either reverse osmosis, electrodialysis/ED Reversal, or anion exchange treatment. These treatment methods are recognized by the American Water Works Association as generally effective treatment processes for nitrate. In rare cases, depending upon initial nitrate concentrations, more than one treatment unit may be needed in series to achieve a reliable and consistent below 10 mg/L nitrate concentration. It is ultimately the responsibility of the well owner and each individual parcel owner to:
- pilot these treatment options and determine if nitrate will be effectively treated below 10 mg/L, and
- to maintain treatment media for the duration of time the contaminated water well source is used to provide water for drinking and culinary purposes.
Our office understands these treatment options are expensive. In most cases, it is only necessary to treat water that is destined for consumption and culinary purposes. Therefore, a cost-effective method of treatment would be to install a point-of-use nitrate treatment unit within the parcel owner’s home, and all other homes which draw water from the referenced water well.
Please reference our Disinfecting a Flooded Well page.
Although the page references floods, the guidance provided about shock chlorination is applicable to any other scenarios which require disinfection of a water well.
Please remember to utilize National Sanitation Foundation Standard 60 certified bleach. Not doing so will create other water quality problems.
Our office highly recommends contacting the Las Vegas Valley Ground Water Management Program first. Their office may be reached at (702) 258-2416. They will help your household navigate this process and inform you about any cost-subsidization for the consolidation process.
Information regarding well conversion grants, aquifer protection, and conservation education can be viewed at https://www.lasvegasgmp.com/.
As always, every well within Nevada is at the least overseen by the State Engineer’s Office: Division of Water Resources (NDWR). Their local office is located in Las Vegas, and they may be reached at (702) 486-2770.
Following consolidation with a water utility, please be sure to update the status of your well with NDWR.
Our office strongly recommends a minimum 100-foot setback distance. This is consistent with standards practiced by agricultural industries (e.g., California Dairy Farm Water Protection Handbook) and model well ordinances within multiple states within the USA (e.g., California, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, Nevada).
- USA CA, 1999. Dairy Farm Water Protection Handbook. Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Resources, 22p. http://www.stancounty.com/er/milkdairy/pdf/mdbook.pdf
- USA NH, 2019. Site Selection for Private Drinking Water Wells. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, WD-DWGB-21-1, 2p. https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/dwgb/documents/dwgb-21-1.pdf
- USA SC, 2015. Private Wells Frequently Asked Questions. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 2p. https://ehs.ncpublichealth.com/oswp/docs/PrivateWellsFrequentlyAskedQuestions.pdf
- USA WA, 2015. Homeowner’s Guide to Well Construction. Washington State Department of Ecology, 7p. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/swr9690.pdf
The outcome is case by case and subjective. Opinions about an aquished being influenced by a single vulnerable “plugged” well vary by available anecdotes and other types of proxies.
Short answer: anything is better than zero, yet also consider that plugging methods and outcomes are not consistently the same. Therefore, the question isn’t “setback versus plug well” it’s “setback versus plug type versus hydrogeology”.
Scenarios synonymous with “plugged well”:
- Casing top capped (clam-type or welded), but casing left unfilled with <<k material;
- screens purposely obstructed, yet casing left unfilled with <<k material;
- full casing obstructed, casing filled with <<k material, yet sanitary seal and/or grouting in annular space is/becomes dilapidated/fractured/weathered)
Although this has been researched amongst hydrogeologists and others, the conclusions about what is an appropriate plugging method comes down to intuition and/or good faith judgement.
Going “full gold standard” RE plugging (pull casing and tremie pipe fill entire bore hole), is expensive and frowned upon by both laymen well owners and projects focused upon optimizing resources.
Continuously consider that well head protection isn’t exclusively about a single well being a source of water, it’s also about any well being a pathway to a source of water.
Therefore, in the absence of standardized plugging (engineering controls), take the route of observing the setbacks recommended for active wells (managerial controls; i.e., wells that are not filled with <<k material) and adjust and record conclusions accordingly.
Further guidance and information about landlord tenant issues can be found on our Landlord/Tenant Disputes page.
Code Enforcement Resources
Updated on: February 9, 2022