What is Involved When You Own a Well?
Owning a home that gets groundwater from a private well brings questions about what we should do to maintain quality water while avoiding safety and health concerns.
Your Well and Home Maintenance
When you think about it, it was not that many years ago when most homes in the rural Midwest did not have indoor plumbing or even a bathroom. Fortunately, modern-day homes now are equipped with wells with pumps to provide water into the house or are transported into a municipal water supply making it convenient for us to receive clean water.
With advances in technology to access water, few people even consider how and where your water comes from. Those living in rural areas with well water need to be self-reliant in ensuring that both their well and the water coming from it are functional and safe. Some unfamiliar with wells wonder how to maintain high quality if they never had to worry about it before.
Water Supplies in the 21st Century
Those who have had access to municipal water systems often take for granted the fact that clean, safe water was transported to their homes. With more people moving to rural areas (often with private wells), their water and the integrity of their well are important things to be informed about. Things to also consider is how nearby farms or neighbors properties pesticide use could affect your well water, how to maintain your well, and monitoring the water coming from your faucets.
Well water comes from groundwater located in a layer of rock called an “aquifer.” Wells are drilled down into the rock to access this underground water source. The pipes and pipe casing are installed and sealed to prevent contaminants from entering the system. The well’s pump forces the underground water to travel through the casing system and is capped above ground, usually found in the yard, somewhere near the home. From there the water then enters the home via a pipe connected to the casing and a pressure tank and sent into the house.
Some people believe that well water is filtered and cleaned from the earth. That is not necessarily true. Water is a natural solvent, meaning that as it moves through the environment it slightly surfaces and picks up whatever it touches along the way. Elements like calcium from the bedrock, sediment, iron, hydrogen sulfide gas, and other minerals and contaminants in the environment can enter the water. While many of these are nothing more than a simple inconvenience, there are others that are of grave concern. Arsenic is a naturally occurring contaminant found in our area and has been linked to negative health effects.
As the owner of your own well, you are 100% responsible to monitor and confirm your water is safe for consumption. Besides the environmental factors, water sources are constantly changing and there are many other things that potentially could make your water unsafe. So, it is important to have water testing performed annually.
How Can Well Water Become Unsafe?
Because of the facts listed above, you can see that contamination is much more likely to occur in a private well than in water from a processed municipal system. Surface water and groundwater are part of what is called the “hydrological cycle” – that it is exposed to contamination from runoff or be impacted by various environmental factors.
Nitrates are another environmental issue that has been proven to be a health hazard, especially to infants. Nitrates in water systems often come from runoff from high fertilizer usage, commonly used in agricultural areas. Nearby farms or golf courses that apply fertilizers to encourage plant or grass growth may compromise your water supply.
Industrial manufacturing facilities and other businesses can also have an impact on your water. One contaminant found near these sites and identified as harmful to human health if consumed is PFAS chemicals. These chemicals are often used in industrial processes and if not disposed of properly may end up seeping into the groundwater.
To be safe and have peace of mind, we recommend having your water tested annually by a licensed professional. This is because most harmful contaminants cannot be seen or tasted. Professional tests are necessary to identify if there is a problem.
If you have any concerns about nitrates, arsenic, or PFAS contamination in your water, we recommend you use a filter that is certified for the removal of those specific elements to ensure the product is removing enough to make the water to the levels that are safe for consumption.
Even if your water is not accumulating any of the harmful environmental contaminants, there are other things to think about to ensure your water stays that way. Cracks in the well’s wall casing or a well cover not properly secured leaves your well exposed to elements that could cause bacteria, such as E. coli, to grow inside. So, it’s important to check the condition of your well occasionally. This can start when rodents and/or insects find their way through these cracks looking for shelter. If they get in and can’t find their way back out, they will often die and decompose inside your well, causing the source for bacteria.
Ingesting E. coli bacteria is not always unsafe, but it can give you and your family diarrhea and a stomach ache. Water testing is the only way to know if bacteria is present. If your test results come back positive, a professional water expert can treat the well using a process called “shock-chlorination,” but they will also need to inspect the well to confirm there are no structural issues that could make it become contaminated again.
Maintenance Around the Well
No matter where you live, maintenance is part of owning a home. If your house’s water supply comes from a well, performing routine maintenance on your well is vitally important.
If you use fertilizer and spray pesticides, keep them a safe distance from your well, and check the well’s cover cap to confirm it is secure and free from debris. It’s also important to remember that the ground around your well is sloped away from the well to ensure proper drainage and groundwater does not enter the system. Keep all records like construction reports, annual well maintenance, and testing reports accessible and in a safe place.
We have a variety of Evolve certified filtration products to keep your water safe from those potentially harmful contaminants that enter your well. An in-home reverse osmosis system can reduce nitrates and arsenic contaminants in your tap drinking water. Evolve’s ONE Contaminant Reduction filter is certified to reduce PFAS chemical throughout your entire house.
There are many great features to having a privately owned well system. While they allow water to flow from the ground to your home, keep in mind that it doesn’t purify or clean the water. That’s your job! Regular testing and treatment when necessary can confirm your water is safe. Keep yourself aware of what could be hidden in your water and how you can deal with any issues you have or could run into.
At Futuramic’s Clean Water Center we have a full team of experienced professionals who are at your service to test and treat your water. That’s OUR job! Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions or need advice from one of our experts.