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Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. EPA regulates public water systems; it does not have the authority to regulate private wells. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies. Improper well construction or a failure to carry out routine preventive maintenance on wells can result in contaminated water.
Indicators that the well sealing may be inadequate and that surface contamination may be gaining access to the well include:
- The presence of coliform bacteria in counts exceeding recommended limits set by health authorities;
- Changes in the quality of the water such as turbidity, colors, taste or odor, especially after a rainstorm or snow melt;
- Rapid or large changes in the water level in the well, especially after a rainstorm or snow melt;
- Cascading or seeping of water and/or staining along the inside of the casing above the water level in the well;
- The presence of biological material such as animals, insects or roots in the well;
- The presence of unsealed or parted joints or cracks in the well casing wall or cover;
- The settlement of the ground surface around the top of the well;
- The presence of roof drainage pipes into the top of the well;
- The absence of a watertight well cover set at an appropriate height above the ground surface; or
- Changes in the chemical quality of the well water as detected through laboratory analysis.
Well owners need to know the measures that should be taken for the care and maintenance of a well to ensure it provides good quality water. The well casing must be securely in place and watertight. If damaged or cracked, it must be replaced immediately since it will give contaminants direct access to the well. The following is key to protect your ground water supply:
- Periodically inspect exposed parts of the well for problems such as:
- Cracked, corroded, or damaged well casing
- Broken or missing well cap
- Settling and cracking of surface seals.
- Slope the area around the well to drain surface runoff away from the well.
- Install a well cap or sanitary seal to prevent unauthorized use of, or entry into, the well.
- Disinfect drinking water wells at least once per year with bleach or hypochlorite granules, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Have the well tested once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and other constituents of concern.
- Keep accurate records of any well maintenance, such as disinfection or sediment removal that may require the use of chemicals in the well.
- Hire a certified well driller for any new well construction, modification, or abandonment and closure.
- Avoid mixing or using pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, degreasers, fuels, and other pollutants near the well.
- Do not dispose of wastes in dry wells or in abandoned wells.
- Do not cut off the well casing below the land surface.
- Pump and inspect septic systems as often as recommended by your local health department.
- Never dispose of hazardous materials in a septic system.
||If you are one of the 15% of Americans who uses a private source of drinking water, find out what activities are taking place in your watershed.
Use only water that has been properly treated for drinking, cooking, making any prepared drink, or for brushing teeth. If you are one of the 15 percent of Americans who uses a private source of drinking water, find out what activities are taking place in your watershed that may impact your drinking water. Reverse Osmosis water filtering is very effective, and can filter out more obscure pollutants like arsenic. They are also adept with dissolved minerals such as iron. That makes them a good choice for well owners who may have problems with their water.