When Should Your Water be Tested?
The (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency regulates federally the standards and testing of all public drinking water supplies in the United States. However, neither these standards nor the associated rules apply or are even relevant to individual water systems, including private wells anywhere in our state. Therefore, as a well owner in Nebraska, it is up to you to ensure that your water is safe to drink and free of harmful agents or contaminants.
What are Water Quality Indicators?
There are more than a few WQI or Water Quality Indicators and several contaminants that should be tested for, in your water supply. A WQI test measures the presence and levels of certain bacteria and microbes in the water. While the presence of WQIs may not result in immediate sickness, the presence may indicate potential issues such as sewer contamination or disease causing bacteria or microorganisms.
Some examples of WQIs include fecal coliforms such as Escherichia coli or the E-Coli bacteria. These particular bugs can cause dysentery, diarrhea and even hepatitis. Other WQIs include the pH, which determines the acidity of the water. This can affect the pipes in your home or encourage heavy metals to leak into the water.
There are also many common contaminants, which can compromise water quality. These include nitrates, or VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can cause a number of detrimental health effects such as Blue Baby Syndrome or even an increased risk of developing certain forms of cancer.
When Should I test my Well Water?
Once a year is the minimum recommended testing frequency. It is a good practice to automatically schedule water testing each spring. You should also think about testing more frequently if there are issues in your area or you have experienced any problems near your well such as land disturbances or flooding which can allow contaminants to accumulate from water from runoff.
You should also test your well water immediately if you notice any changes in the water quality, e.g. an unfamiliar or unpalatable taste, unusual color, bad odor or if you suspect your well water may have been compromised by contaminants. These may indicate a potential problem such as contamination from heavy metals or other agents, however, there are many contaminants such as bacteria or microorganisms which do not affect the appearance, odor or taste of the water. If you live in a rural or industrial area where there is a risk of contaminated runoff after heavy rains or other adverse weather, you may wish to consider having your well water tested more frequently throughout the year.
Finally, for a higher level of water quality safety, you may wish to consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system. These systems, which can eliminate a wide variety of contaminants to ensure that your drinking water is free from heavy metals, germs, bacteria and other unwanted elements, will ensure that even if your well water has been compromised, you and your family can still enjoy clean and pristine drinking water.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, Partner EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space , Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. In addition to running the day-to-day operations of EcoWater Systems of Nebraska, one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery enterprises in the state, Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.