Well water testing is a top priority, and the only way private well owners can know if their drinking water is contaminated. Not all contaminated water looks, smells or tastes strange.
Each state’s Department of Health is a great resource for keeping wells safe, but so is your local well technician.
In some cases, private wells may be exempt from groundwater permit requirements — which is often true of single-family homes since they don’t draw much water (relatively). This is good news when it comes to bypassing red tape and fees, but bad news if you’d prefer someone else manage your drinking water for you.
Well ownership has many perks, such as the fact that you don’t have to pay for your water. The only water payments you make are for your well maintenance.
Experts recommend that private wells get tested every year. You can do this yourself, or hire a technician to do it for you. The testing process is fast, easy and affordable. The most dangerous contaminants are coliform bacteria and nitrate, which can drastically and quickly affect your health.
Watch for nitrate levels larger than 5 milligrams per liter. If you get a positive result, stop drinking and bathing in this contaminated well water immediately and call a professional to remedy the situation. If you get a negative test result, commit to re-test in six months.
You occasionally should test for arsenic as well, ideally in the summer and winter. Seasonal changes can impact groundwater and well water, although arsenic isn’t as immediately dangerous as nitrate and coliform bacteria. However, consistently drinking it over a few months can cause health issues.
A DIY test kit ranges from $20-$40, and you can buy them at most hardware and home improvement stores. However, many homeowners prefer a well technician to handle testing to make certain nothing is missed.
Testing easily can be added on during a routine well inspection. In certain instances, you should contact your local health department if test results surpass a certain level:
- Any amount of coliform: Even trace amounts of coliform bacteria can be dangerous. If it’s present, a technician will likely need to disinfect the well, repair part of the piping and/or kick-start a treatment plan.
- Nitrate above 10 mg/L: Nitrate above 5 mg/L is dangerous, but anything above 10 mg/L should be reported to local authorities. It’s especially dangerous if infants and/or pregnant women are in the home. If that’s the case, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or OB/GYN as a precaution.
- Arsenic above 0.01 mg/L: Small amounts of arsenic are also a big cause for concern. Only drink bottled water if it’s found, until a professional comes and takes a look.
You also may want to test your well water if someone in the home has a mysterious illness, if a neighbor’s well is contaminated, or if your water just seems different. Call Mike Zimmerman today for a complete well water testing appointment.