Is it safe to drink the water directly from a private well?
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For most people, their drinking water is regulated by federal and state governments since they receive their water through community supplies. However, about 15% of Americans have their own source of water, through a private well or springs on their property. The government does not regulate these water sources, and therefore, homeowners need to pay closer attention to the safety of their drinking water.
Most groundwater is dubbed safe, but people should have it tested periodically. Groundwater that fills wells can sometimes become contaminated, although the deeper the well, the less likely it is to be ridden with bad things. Some elements it picks up from rocks. But run-off pollutants can also seep into groundwater. Things like microorganisms, heavy metals, lead, copper, household waste, fluoride and more can all be found in traces in ground water.
The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 does not include private wells. However, looking at the requirements for that on the EPA website can give well-owners an idea of what the acceptable levels are for these many contaminants. Local health departments are also very helpful in providing information and assistance with well testing. Even some local college with environmental science programs can sometimes aid in testing water quality.
A number of factors need to be addressed in order to maintain a healthy private well before you can rely on it to provide ‘clean’ water.
Construction: Was the well built soundly? If the foundation is not strong, problems could develop at any time.
- Location: Where is it located? What problems have your neighbors experienced? What is nearby that could cause a problem?
- Maintenance: How well has the well been maintained in the past few years? Has the water been periodically checked for contamination?
- Water Source: What is the quality of the aquifer from which your water is drawn?
- Human activities: What is going on in your area that could affect your well?
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