If your water supply is sourced from a private well, you should be aware the EPA doesn’t regulate your water safety. Approximately 15 percent of homes in the U.S have a private source of drinking water, but there are some basic measures that you can take to ensure your drinking water is safe for consumption.

The Groundwater Basics:

Most private wells are tapped into groundwater supplies. Groundwater develops from rain and snowmelt soaking into the earth’s surface. The water fills the spaces and gaps occurring between rocks and soil layers to create an aquifer. Depending on the water depth and the contaminants found in the area, for example, fertilizers, herbicides or animal manure, the groundwater may become polluted. The groundwater may also contain higher levels of dissolved elements or natural impurities such as arsenic or selenium that can trigger health issues. While groundwater is a source for many public water systems, these supplies are tested and treated at a dedicated municipal facility. Unfortunately, private wells do not receive this water treatment, and your water may already contain contaminants when it reaches your tap.

Awareness of Local Pollution Sources:

One of the most crucial factors for private well drinking water safety is awareness of potential pollution sources in the area. Certain geographical areas tend to be prone to naturally occurring specific contaminants that may present health risks. For example, the soil in your geographic area could contain high levels of selenium that could contaminate groundwater supplies.

Unfortunately, human activity may also contribute to groundwater contamination, so it is crucial to be aware of the pollution sources in the local area. For example, if you live in an area near mining activities, an agricultural area, or a place where chemicals are used, your groundwater and thereby, your well could be contaminated. These types of activities are known to introduce nitrates and chemicals that can leach into the soil and groundwater, particularly after heavy rainfalls. Although some of these types of pollutants may be detected by sight, taste, or smell, some are undetectable to the human senses.

Well Water Testing:

As we touched on above, some contaminants to not alter the aesthetics of water. While an unpalatable taste, unpleasant smell or discoloration of the water can act as an indicator of a problem, other potentially harmful contaminants such as bacteria may remain undetected. Fortunately, water testing can detect any potentially harmful contaminants in your drinking water supply.

According to the CDC, private wells should be tested once a year, but you should immediately have your water tested if there are issues in your area or you notice any changes to your water quality. Proper lab testing will determine if unsafe levels of natural minerals, chemicals, organic materials, or bacteria are present in your water supply. Typically, water testing results are available quickly, and it may be possible to have testing conducted at your home to expedite the process. This fast action will allow you an opportunity to correct underlying issues and ensure your drinking water is safe for consumption by the whole family.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.