If you’ve been worrying about your well water safety, here’s where to start.
Whereas the recipient of municipal water is dependent on the utility company and government regulation for the quality of their water, the owner of a private well has the sole responsibility of ensuring the cleanliness of the water source. Typically, a well owner should assess water quality every year. Potential contaminants for a private well are the same as those for ground water in general and include hydrogen sulfide (sulfur), salt, and organic compounds, including methane gas, petroleum products, pesticides, fertilizers, biological wastes, septic system contaminants, and bacteria.
One of the benefits of well water is that it’s free, aside from the energy required to run the pump and the materials needed for disinfection. But water analysis can be pricey, depending on which contaminants are surveyed. (Here’s what the CDC says about it.) If your well water is contaminated, remediation may or may not be possible. For example, ground water contaminated by saline can be very difficult to remedy. Perhaps the greatest potential hazard for well water safety is the presence of methane gas. If your well water contains dissolved methane gas, you need to install a special venting system for the water to prevent a possible explosion.
There are a few things you can do to help protect your well water safety. First of all, make sure that your septic system is distant enough from the well, and if you have livestock make sure their wastes are deposited far from the well head. Although many well owners install chlorination systems, it is best to limit the exposure of your water to this source of potential pathogens. While maintaining your property, try not to use any pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides in the vicinity of your well head. Conventional pesticide and fertilizer residues can leach into the water table and persist for decades!
Here’s a similar consideration of the issues concerning the safety of tap water.