If your water tastes salty, you may have elevated levels of sodium in your well water.
There are many manmade and naturally occurring elements that can contaminate groundwater supplies. If you receive your water from a private well, it is your responsibility to maintain the health and safety of your water supply. Annual testing can help you to determine the quality of your water source and if treatment is necessary. One contaminant that can occur, both naturally and from man-made sources, is sodium chloride, commonly known as salt.
Let's answer some frequently asked questions about sodium, what is is, how it enters the water supply and what to do if your well has elevated levels.
What is sodium?
Sodium is a naturally occurring, highly soluble chemical element that is often found naturally in groundwater. It is the sixth most common element on Earth, is an integral part of our body chemistry and required for optimal health. Sodium is used to flavor and preserve food, de-ice roads, as a treatment in water softening and has a thousand other uses. Sodium salts occur naturally in nature and are typically found in all water.
How does sodium get into my well water?
Because most rocks and soil contain trace amounts of sodium compounds and sodium is easily dissolved, all groundwater contains trace amounts that are usually not detectable. If your water tastes “salty” you may have elevated levels in your water supply. Generally, at levels below 200mg/L, it does not produce any taste. If your water tastes salty, you may have elevated levels. Common sources of elevated sodium levels in groundwater include:
- erosion of salt deposits
- naturally occurring brackish water in some aquifers
- salt water intrusion into wells in coastal regions
- contamination from run-off of road salt
- irrigation and excess rain/snow melt through leaching in soil that is high in naturally occurring sodium
- pollution by sewage effluent
- leaching from landfills or industrial sites
Annual testing can help to determine actual levels present in your well. If your tap water has a salty taste, it may be prudent to have your well tested.
What are the health effects of sodium in my well water?
At normal levels, sodium is generally not a health concern, and in fact can be beneficial as our bodies require sodium to remain healthy. At high levels sodium can adversely effect blood pressure and can cause symptoms in people suffering from hypertension. Many people are on sodium restricted diets and while there is no EPA standard for sodium in water, if you suffer from high-blood pressure, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, it may be prudent to have your well tested to determine the exact level of sodium present. The EPA does recommend that levels not exceed 20mg/l for people on a low or no sodium diet.
Should I test my well for sodium?
The EPA recommends annual testing of your well water. Some level of sodium is present in all water. If your water tastes salty, you should have it tested. If you have hypertension, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, you can include sodium in your annual test to determine the exact levels present
What can I do if my well tests positive for elevated levels of sodium?
Pitcher type point of use systems or boiling your water does not remove sodium and can in fact concentrate it further. If high levels of sodium are detected during testing there are treatment options available. Reverse Osmosis Systems and distillation are effective at removing excess levels of sodium as well as other contaminants. The best option is to speak with your well water professional.
Your well water professional can help you to determine the best, most effective treatment options for your situation. Contact Skillings & Sons to speak with an expert. Remember, your well is your responsibility. A little sodium may be beneficial to your health, but if you find that your well has excessive levels and testing determines that you have a problem, speak with your well water professional. The can help you to determine the source of the problem and explain all of your treatment options including costs.