Should I have my well tested?
Yes, in 2000 according to the Center for Disease Control contaminated private well water caused 26% of the drinking water outbreaks that made people sick. If you are a private well owner it’s up to you to make sure that your well water is safe to drink .
When should I have my well tested?
Check your well every year to make sure there are no mechanical problems.Test it once a year for germs and once every two years for harmful chemicals.
You should also have your well tested if:
- There are known problems with well water in your area
- You have experienced flooding, land disturbances or nearby waste disposal sites near your well.
- You replace or repair any part of your well system.
- You are purchasing a new home.
- Any time you notice a change in your water quality.
How do germs and harmful chemicals get into my well water?
Some germs occur naturally, for example heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium are naturally found in rocks and soil and sometimes seep into ground water. Other contaminants come from human and animal waste resulting from polluted storm water runoff, agricultural runoff, flooded sewers or individual septic systems that are not working properly.
What kinds of germs or chemicals could contaminate my well?
Total Coliform-Coliform bacteria are microbes found in the digestive system of warm blooded animals, in soil, on plants and in surface water. Coliform bacteria does not normally make you sick however because microbes like viruses, bacteria and parasites are hard to test for in water, “total coliform” are tested instead. If the total coliform count is high then it is considered that harmful microbes may be found in the water as well.
Fecal Coliform/Escherichia coli (E.Coli)-The feces and digestive systems of humans and animals contain millions of fecal coliform. E.Coli is part of the fecal coliform group and may be tested for by itself. A positive test may indicate feces and harmful germs may have found itself into your well. These harmful germs can cause diarrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis.
Nitrate-Nitrate is naturally found in many types of food however high levels of it in drinking water can make people sick. Nitrate in your well water can come from animal waste, private septic systems, wastewater, flooded sewers, polluted storm runoff, fertilizers and decaying plants. A nitrate test is recommended for all wells. If the nitrate level is higher than Environmental Protection Agency standards then you should look for an alternate source of drinking water or ways to treat your water.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)-Industrial and fuel related chemicals that may cause bad health effects at certain levels. Examples of VOC’s are benzene, carbon tetrachloride, toluene, trichloroethelene, and methyl tertiary butyl ether.
pH-The pH level tells you how acidic or basic your water is. The pH level can change how your water looks or tastes. If the pH is too low or too high it can damage your pipes, causing heavy metals like leak out of the pipes into the water and eventually make you sick.
My well water has a funny smell or taste; should I worry about getting sick?
A change in your water’s taste, smell or color is usually not a health concern but can be a sign of serious contamination problems. Any time you notice a change in your water quality, you should have it tested.
For the safety of you and your family….any time your water source is in question, have it tested.