Many households are choosing to become more independent and find having a personal source of clean drinking water in the form of well water an attraction. However, not all well water may be potable and safe for human consumption. Homeowners and property owners looking to use well water for drinking and more may want to learn more about how to safeguard their water source from potential contaminants and how to test water to ensure it meets specific standards.
Households who want to make the most out of well water on their property can learn more through following the following tips today.
How to Keep Drinking Water Safe
Much depends on the type of well used for potable water on the site. There are many different types of private wells that may be found on properties, including drilled private wells, driven wells, dug wells and a bored well. Water in all cases must be delivered through the area’s aquifer. In some areas, like South Carolina, casings of old wells are not to be cut to ground level as this can make it too easy for excess water, along with contaminants, pesticides and bacteria, to flow back into the well. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends being aware of sources of possible contaminants, such as:
• Manure stacks
• Petroleum and fertilizer storage tanks
• Livestock yards, septic leach fields and silos
• Septic tanks
Details on construction requirements in an area may be found through the county’s educational extension office or county health department. Property owners that maintain their well can safeguard a well’s performance. Keep a record of the installation, repairs, pumping and water tests. These records may prove useful if a problem does arise. Attempt to prevent surface runoff and decrease erosion. Also, protect the water sources from animal waste. If pesticides are ever needed to deal with any big pest issues around the house, make sure to double and triple check that you do not contaminate your well.
Contaminants in Well Water
It may be difficult to keep out contaminants in old-fashioned dug wells. The large opening provides access to permit debris and other particulates to get into the water. Steps should be taken before using any private well. A household that plans to use well water should have it tested more than once. Health departments suggest having a second water test performed after the first after a few weeks. This allows owners to see if there have been any harmful changes to the bacteria levels in a well.
What to Know About Water Samples
Water safety kits can be found at many local home supply stores. The safety of the well water becomes a homeowner’s responsibility once a local well has received a permit and is completed. If there are contaminants, a chlorination procedure can be of use in eliminating the majority of bacterial threats.
There are a number of water quality indicators (WQIs) to be aware of in water test results. WQIs and contaminants include:
• pH levels
• Fecal coliforms
• Total coliforms
• Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
It may also be necessary to test for arsenic, lead or other pesticides depending on a specific area. Speak with the area’s health or environmental department for additional guidance when interpreting test results.
Those who are looking to purchase a property and make use of an existing water well may want to make one of their contingencies a satisfactory water test. A water testing professional can help homeowners learn more about which water tests would be important to ensure that a well’s water conforms to pure drinking water standards. At a minimum, it is important to test well water once a year for total coliform bacteria, total dissolved solids, pH levels and nitrates. If a household notices changes in water quality, an additional test may be useful.
Safe Drinking Water
Individuals lucky enough to have access to potable well water must take steps to maintain the water’s purity. Address any changing bacteria levels or pH levels early on to easily manage any issues in a well water source and protect a family’s health.
NOTE: This is a blog from outside BSCEB and reflects our desire to increase the dissemination of information that can be useful for those interested in enhancing sustainability. BSCEB allows outside blogs that are factually accurate, non-commercial, and directed towards improving the sustainability of human society.