Make Sure All’s Well With Your Well Water
The Keys to Owning a Successful WellPromoted by Berkey® Systems
Well water, a treasured gift from our good earth, is relied upon by 43 million Americans every day — that’s 15 percent of the country’s population. And while state and local governments have rules regarding the construction of private wells, the quality of the water itself is not subject to official guidelines or regulations. This means that the quality of your well water is up to you.
Whether you’re thinking about having a well built or looking for maintenance tips, read the following to be sure all’s well with your well water.
The Keys to Owning a Successful Well
Enjoy your well confidently. Start with these key considerations.
- Select an informed location
- Choose the ideal type of well
- Conduct routine testing
- Perform regular maintenance
- Implement a water treatment plan
Select an Informed Location
The more information you have about your land, the better.
Laws and Regulations
Start by understanding your local laws and regulations. Some states strictly regulate where you can build a well. In addition, you may be required to fill out forms or obtain permits before any digging or drilling can begin. Contact your local water district or health department for more information.
Next, conduct a site survey to learn about your specific geographical opportunities or challenges. The survey will also tell you more about water table depth, seasonal fluctuations, the recharge area and rate.
Finally, consider potential sources of contamination that may impact your water quality. Plenty of things can seep into a poorly located well. So if you don’t want it in your coffee cup, make certain such concerns are addressed.
Some of the most common well contaminants include:
- Organic chemicals (such as pesticides, petrochemicals, PFCs)
- Heavy metals (arsenic, lead)
- Radionuclides (nuclear and industrial waste)
Sources of such contaminants may include:
- On-site septic systems
- Livestock wastes — yards and manure stacks
- Fertilizers and pesticides on agricultural land
- Runoff of salt and other chemicals from roads and highways
- Leaks or spills of industrial chemicals at manufacturing facilities
- Leaky tanks or pipelines containing petroleum products
- Industrial waste from underground injection wells
- Contaminants in rain, snow, and dry atmospheric fallout
- Toxins leaking from graveyards
Choose the Ideal Type of Well
Once you have researched your well’s location, you’ll likely choose one of the following types:
- Dug wells are usually dug with a shovel or backhoe. They are less expensive to build than other wells, but are also more vulnerable to surface runoff contamination. Their shallow depth also makes them susceptible to drought, meaning they can dry up if the water table recedes below the floor of the well.
- Drilled wells use a drill to bore a shaft through solid rock. Drilled wells can be more than a thousand feet deep, reducing the possibility of contamination.
- Driven wells are constructed by driving pipes into water-bearing sand and gravel deposits to a depth of 30 to 50 feet. They are relatively inexpensive to build but their shallow depth, like dug wells, makes them susceptible to contamination by surface sources.
Conduct Routine Testing
Don’t rely solely on your eyes or sense of smell to gauge the potability of your water — most contaminants are microscopic in nature and can’t be detected by your senses alone. Have your well tested at least once a year for things like total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels.
If you’ve recently had maintenance or repairs performed on your well (or detect any major changes to the color or smell of your water), consider more frequent testing. Your local health department can you help find a licensed water testing company.
Perform Regular Maintenance
Routine inspection and maintenance can prevent costly repairs and big headaches down the road. Items on your checklist should include:
- Making sure that the well cap is snug and watertight
- Inspecting the seals on well casing and joints
- Ensuring pumps and pipes are working properly and not leaking
- Identifying major changes around the well — such as new construction or animals grazing (two things that can drastically affect local groundwater)
Implement a Water Treatment Plan
All sources of fresh water — even the most meticulously maintained wells — are vulnerable to the dangers of pollutants lurking underground. By the time a test reveals that your well has contaminants, it’s possible that you have been consuming that water for some time.
That’s why it’s so important you have a response plan ready:
- Immediately stop drinking your well’s water
- Have a backup method of obtaining clean water available (bottled water, boiling it, purification system, etc.).
- Put together a list of qualified contractors that can fix your well
Treat Your Water
If testing indicates the presence of coliform bacteria (or identifies other problems), take action immediately. Fix any issues with your well, then treat your water to kill any contaminants. Four common methods include:
- Chlorination, a simple and inexpensive treatment — similar to shocking your swimming pool
- UV irradiation, which places a special light bulb in your well that kills pathogens
- Reverse osmosis, effective at removing contaminants but can involve high equipment and plumbing costs ($12,000-$18,000)
- Distillation, another expensive but effective option which purifies water by boiling it and collecting the steam
To verify your water is acceptable to drink, perform a follow-up test 10 to 14 days later.
Even Better, Take Control of Your Water
Even if your well passes basic periodic testing, you can still do more to protect your family from potential contaminants. Berkey® systems, the leader in gravity-fed water purification systems, recommends taking control of your water by using a final barrier system every day.
A final barrier system purifies your water immediately before use so you can confidently prep food, cook, and drink.
All’s Well with a Berkey® Systems — Enjoy Peace of Mind
Berkey® systems are stainless steel, freestanding water purifiers that sit on a countertop or stand. Simply pour water from virtually any source into the top chamber, and dispense purified water easily from the lower chamber through a handy spigot. The systems are easy to use no electricity, tools, or plumbing needed.
Berkey® systems equipped with Black Berkey® Purification Elements remove up to 99.999 percent of viruses and 99.9999999 percent of pathogenic bacteria, while also removing or dramatically reducing trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, petroleum products, perfluorinated chemicals, rust, silt, sediment, and even radiologicals. Enjoy clean, delicious, purified water that retains the healthy minerals your body needs for less than 2 cents per gallon of purified water. A pair of Black Berkey® Purification Elements last up to 6,000 gallons, or approximately five years with typical use.