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UDSA & FHA Septic And Well Requirements

Reviewed by: David Naimey

Approved by: Chad Turner

Who Is In Charge Of The Septic and Well Requirements?

An inspector from the local health department or a laboratory certified by the state takes water samples for testing. State laboratories performing analyses of drinking water compliance samples must meet the minimum criteria established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to qualify for certification.

Well water samples are tested for the presence of coliform bacteria, lead and nitrates. Certain bacteria present in drinking water can transmit infectious diseases. Analyzing water quality may also include testing for arsenic, mercury and other harmful chemicals and contaminants depending on where the home is located. Elevated levels of these contaminants in drinking water can lead to a wide range of health problems.

Whenever USDA Loans or RD loans are made to purchase, construct or repair dwellings with private water systems, it is required that the seller, builder or applicant furnish a satisfactory water test to the Area Specialist. 

How The Water Sample Is Taken?

Water samples must be taken as directed by the testing laboratory to insure accuracy of the tests.

The water sample cannot be drawn by the buyer or the seller in the transaction.

The following tests are required by Rural Development:

  1.  Coliform (total)
  2. Nitrate Nitrogen
  3. Lead
  4. Arsenic (only needed on new wells)

The testing laboratory report will indicate those tests that are unsatisfactory and make recommendations for correction.

Below are some examples of a satisfactory test…“water is considered bacteriologically potable”, “all tests are performed in accordance w/ NELAC standards”(Florida health Dept.), “is satisfactory for drinking water supply”, “this water sample meets the standards set by the state health department”, “the analyses were conducted using methods approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

USDA And FHA Septic And Well Distance Requirements?

According to the HUD Handbook 4000.1 these are the requirements.

  • A well must be a minimum of 10 feet from the property line.
  • A well must be a minimum of 50 feet from septic tank.
  • A well must be a minimum of 100 feet from the drain field.
  • However, this distance may be reduced to 75 feet if allowed by the local authority.

In Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Tennessee, USDA and FHA regulations dictate the minimum distances for septic and well placement. If the property borders a residential area, the local well-distance regulations take precedence. For properties adjacent to non-residential areas or roadways, a minimum separation of 10 feet from the property line is required. Additionally, if the local authority’s distance requirements exceed those outlined in the HUD Handbook, they will supersede the HUD guidelines.


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