Copper rarely occurs naturally in drinking water. It is more common for copper contamination to occur at some point in the water delivery system. Too much copper in the human body can cause stomach and intestinal distress such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. To determine the presence of copper in drinking water, a specific procedure to collect samples must be used and a certified laboratory must complete the testing. Public water supplies must comply with the EPA action level of 1.3 ppm copper.
Management of a private drinking water well for copper is a decision made by the well owner and/or water user. A water test is the only way to determine the copper concentration. If private drinking water exceeds the EPA copper standard of 1.3 ppm, steps can be taken voluntarily to reduce the risk. Options include managing the water supply used for drinking and cooking by flushing water with high copper concentrations from the water system, using water treatment equipment, or using an alternative water source. The option selected must be based on the specific situation.