Drinking / Household Water
Approximately 90% of Tennessee households use a public drinking water supply. Large public water systems may serve hundreds of thousands and are managed by municipal water utility companies. Small public water systems may include only 25 people and are operated by one owner or operator. Public water supplies in Tennessee are regulated by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Division of Water Resources, Water Supply Program and the EPA Drinking Water Program. Public drinking water quality is routinely tested and treated to meet regulatory standards.
To find additional information about your local water utility, call the city or county where you live or you may use the Safe Drinking Water Information System to narrow your choices. Water utilities maintain and distribute consumer confidence reports to customers describing water quality and water system details.
Private Water Supplies
Approximately 10% of Tennessee households have a private water supply. Private water sources may include wells, springs, rainwater, lakes or other surface water. The regulatory definition of ‘private water supply’ is based on the number of people served over time and the number of connections or households connected to a single water source. A private water system may serve from 1 to 14 households or service connections and up to 25 people less than 60 days per year. If a water source has 15 or more service connections or routinely
serves 25 or more people 60 or more days per year, it should be registered as a public water system with the TDEC Division of Water Resources.
In Tennessee, there are no regulations regarding private drinking water quality. However, water well construction standards are regulated by TDEC Division of Water Resources. Individuals using a private water supply are encouraged to test their drinking water annually for pathogens and at least every other year for chemical contaminants, especially if the nearby land use includes current or former industrial activities.
Water treatment systems may be installed to improve drinking water quality in private water supplies. When adding water treatment for a private water system, we recommend contracting a licensed water treatment installer.
In effort to learn more about private drinking water systems using spring water, the Tennessee Department of Health with funding from the CDC National Centers for Environmental Heatlh's Safe Water for Community Health program, are launching the this survey to gather information about spring water quality, location and historical significance.
More information about private water supplies may be found on the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Water Supply Program websites.
Resources for private drinking water
Camping and Emergency Drinking Water
When in situations where your normal source of household water is unavailable, such as while camping, during extreme weather events or a water related emergency, only use water from known sources and treat the water before consuming. As always, the best time to plan is before a disaster happens.