Is Your Well well?
15% of Americans rely on private wells for their daily water needs. Private well water quality is the responsibility of the homeowner and is not regulated by the EPA; however, there may be state or local laws that apply so check for those, too. It is important if you are using a private well to have your well water tested for quality. Once a year it is recommended that you test for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH level. Depending on where you live you may want to test for other contaminants. Visit your state’s private well web site to find more information.
Testing well water is an important practice for private well users but equally important are prevention practices. Some useful things to keep in mind about your private well:
• Septic tanks should be at least 50 feet away from the well and depending on the hydrogeology of the site , 100 feet might be recommended
• Minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides on your land
• Do not dispose of household and lawn care wastes near your well
• Regularly check underground oil and gas holding tanks; these tanks can leak into your drinking well
• Ensure your well is protected from livestock, pet and wildlife waste
• Make sure well casings are at least 8 inches above the ground and a sanitary well cap is used at the top of the casing.
Visit the American Groundwater Trust. It is an organization that has been around since 1986 and educates people about maintaining and testing their ground water wells. The Trust has a very informative website with many useful resources.
Also check out the Mid-Atlantic Master Well Owner Network for information on proper construction and maintenance of private water systems in Pennsylvania and throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Do you get your water from a private well? Share some things to watch out for or problems you have encountered and what solution worked best for you.
Read more information on private drinking wells.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.