Many well water problems are avoidable, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s in the hands of homeowners to ensure their well water is safe and healthy. “Locating and controlling sources of pollution to groundwater can be challenging, but is far preferable to the cost and difficulty of cleaning up contaminated groundwater,” the EPA says. If a well is not installed/dug correctly, not maintained or not cared for after an occurrence like a flood, pollutants can easily take hold.
It doesn’t matter if you use your well water for drinking — contaminants can get into other, neighboring wells which can cause an epidemic (as seen in the movie Erin Brockovich). The EPA notes that a well’s location, no matter the depth, plays a big role in likelihood of contamination. For example, if a well is located downhill from livestock or a septic tank, contamination is more likely.
The EPA recommends that in Utah, a well and a home should be within 5 feet of one another. A well should also be at least 100 feet from a manure pile, septic tank, chemical storage area or other dangerous substance, 25 feet from sewer lines or natural water sources, and at least 10 feet from a cistern or water drain. Aim for a minimum of 1,500 feet from a salty area. However, if the well isn’t grouted, add an extra 200 feet to each of these recommendations.
It may sound like a lot of space, but bear in mind that most well owners are in rural areas, which are often roomier. The more separation you can have between your well and potential danger zones, the better. Contamination sources can become more threatening during heavy rainfall, when toxins spread further and more easily. Some soils are more permeable than others, which is why most states urge homeowners to locate their wells far from any contaminants.
Remember that these recommendations by the EPA are requirements in some states, but only apply to new well installations. The government isn’t able to require older wells to be re-installed to fit the requirements. This is scary news for homeowners who installed their well years ago, or who bought a home with an older, existing well. The EPA encourages homeowners to “strive to meet current regulations whenever possible.” Remember that separating a well from a potential contamination source might help, but it doesn’t come with any guarantees.
The only way to guarantee your well water is safe is with regular testing. Test in the spring, autumn and after any especially threatening storm. You can DIY with a kit or have your well tech take care of it during an inspection.
Call Mike Zimmerman Well Services to schedule your well water testing and inspection today.