A key to improving water quality is knowing the basics about water testing, well maintenance, water treatment, and groundwater protection, says the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).
Water testing 101
Unlike public water systems, private well owners are responsible for testing their own water. NGWA recommends well owners test annually for bacteria, nitrate, and anything of local concern. Most county health departments do some water testing, and many well owners are within reasonable distance of a drinking water testing lab.
Groundwater contaminants of local concern can be naturally occurring, such as arsenic, or manmade, such as chemicals or heavy metals from industrial or waste sites. The county health department or an area drinking water testing lab are good places to start to find out what might be of local concern.
Modern, drilled wells are closed systems to keep bacteria and other external contaminants out of the well and the groundwater. But poor maintenance can result in well system breaches, allowing contamination to enter.
Well owners should get periodic inspections of their well systems to catch any maintenance problems before they threaten water quality, says NGWA.
Home water treatment systems are available at a cost within reach of most well owners. But one size does not fit all, so it is important to match the treatment system to the specific need. Well owners should have their drinking water lab test results in hand when considering water treatment to make sure a system is a good fit.
Groundwater quality can be affected by contamination in the vicinity of the well. So well owners should be on guard for potential contamination sources such as animal or human waste from animal enclosures or failing septic systems, the improper storage or application of chemical products, and improper disposal of hazardous household substances.
Visit www.WellOwner.org to learn more about water testing, well maintenance, water treatment, and groundwater protection.