When it comes to your home and your family’s health, one of the most valuable assets on your property is your well. If you receive water from a private well on your property, monitoring and protecting it is your responsibility. It’s important to test annually for potential contaminants including total coliform bacteria, nitrates, dissolved solids and PH levels. If you live in the Northeast, you may also want to test for naturally occurring contaminants like arsenic and radon, which are common to the region. Always use a state certified contractor and lab to conduct any testing.
When protecting your well, there are steps beyond testing you can take to ensure the safety of your water supply. Often, homeowners unknowingly engage in practices that can result in water quality issues. Protecting your well requires a few common sense steps on your property as well as an awareness of your surrounding community.
Let’s examine some potential issues and the steps you can take to protect your well from contamination.
Identify Potential Water Contamination Problems Near Your Well
Identifying potential problems is the first step for protecting your well. Contact a local expert familiar with the geology of your area. Call your local health department, agricultural extension, geologist, or a nearby public water system and ask if there are local geological issues such as naturally occurring radon or high calcium levels in the soil.
Start close to home by walking the property surrounding your well. Specifically, check for:
- Nearby farms with livestock.
- If your live in an agricultural area or a nearby nursery, do they use pesticides?
- Do you use lawn products like fertilizer, grub killer or lime?
- Are you downstream from your neighbor's septic system?
- Is your well close to any roadways that are treated in winter?
- Have you or your neighbors disposed of gasoline, motor oil or other chemicals in the area? Even small amounts can leach into your water supply.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's probably best to have your well tested. Speak with your local health department or agricultural extension. They may be able to offer ideas on how to change some of the practices that can affect your well.
Once you’ve checked your immediate area, expand your search. Keep abreast of local developments like nearby construction. If you suspect an issue, attend local zoning commission hearings and inquire if there are measures in place to protect your water. It’s your right to be heard. Make sure they answer you directly and with specifics. Most projects will require an environmental impact study. Ask to see these documents and check if underground water sources have been addressed.
There are many common sources of potential groundwater contamination, both naturally occurring and man-made. Agricultural, commercial, industrial and residential practices can all potentially impact your water supply. Testing annually is your first defense. Diligence, knowing your surroundings and awareness what is happening in your community is the second line.
Take action to change any dangerous practices you might engage in, like improperly disposing of oil, or septic system placement and be aware of what’s happening in your community. Remember, you’re responsible for your well. With a few small changes, you and your family can always enjoy clean drinking water. If you have questions about water well contamination or treatment, contact the experts at Skillings & Sons.