The Environmental Protection Agency regulates public water systems, but if you have a private well, there are no federal regulations and minimal state regulations guarding the quality of your water.
Roughly 15 percent of Americans and 46 percent of New Hampshire residents rely on private wells for their drinking water supply. While public drinking water systems are regularly monitored by experts, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to monitor water from private wells.
There are some steps you can take to protect your water supply from contamination, many of them free and easy to do. When in doubt about your home’s private water supply, call a well system professional, like Skillings & Sons, who can answer your questions and recommend testing and treatment options.
IDENTIFY POTENTIAL PROBLEM SOURCES
Knowing what can cause well water contamination is a good first step in identifying possible contamination sources. Nearby farms, landfills, gas stations or industrial sites can cause contamination. A common source of man-made contamination is from on-site or nearby septic systems. Proper placement and maintenance of a septic system will prevent contamination. Also, if you hear of problems with septic systems near your home, you should have your well water tested.
TALK WITH LOCAL EXPERTS
Local health boards in Massachusetts and some municipal agencies in New Hampshire and Maine keep records and do some monitoring of local private wells. Consult your city or town officials to see if they have any information about well water problems in your area. State agencies can also be a resource. New Hampshire has a Well Water Inventory Program which keeps records of all wells constructed in the state after 1984. This can provide you with information about the geology and depth of the wells in your area.
HAVE YOUR WATER TESTED PERIODICALLY
The EPA recommends annual testing of well water for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. Tests for suspected contaminants should also be conducted as well. In New Hampshire, the Department of Environmental Services recommends well water testing every 3 to 5 years, especially for arsenic and radon, which are common throughout the state. Local health officials and water experts can also give you advice about what tests homeowners in your area should be conducting.
The EPA recommends talking to water experts who can explain and interpret water test results clearly. Skillings & Sons has worked with thousands of homeowners and can provide advice on conducting testing as well as interpretation of results.
CONDUCT REGULAR WELL MAINTENANCE AND KEEP UP-TO-DATE RECORDS
Many states require homeowners keep records on major well repairs and failures, and require the disclosure of these records during the sale of a home. If you hire a professional well service for any repairs, make sure to keep all records.Homeowners can also monitor for problems by inspecting well parts for cracked or corroded casings, broken or missing well caps or cracking surface seals. Maintain the slope of the land around the well so that surface water can drain away from the well and consider disinfecting your well.
IMMEDIATELY REMEDY ANY PROBLEMS
Leaving a well in disrepair or putting off maintenance will only lead to costly problems down the road. If water quality is an issue, installing a water treatment system can resolve the problem and ensure your family has clean, safe drinking water for years to come.