Water Testing

What is Acceptable?

If your family gets drinking water from a private well, do you know if your water is safe to drink? What health risks could you and your family face? Where can you go for help or advice? Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies.

The well should be located so rainwater flows away from it. Rainwater can pick up harmful bacteria and chemicals on the land’s surface. If this water pools near your well, it can seep into it, potentially causing health problems. To keep your well safe, you must be sure possible sources of contamination are not close by. Experts suggest the following distances as a minimum for protection — farther is better:

  • Septic Tanks, 50 feet
  • Livestock yards, Silos, Septic Leach Fields, 50 feet
  • Petroleum Tanks, Liquid-Tight Manure Storage and Fertilizer Storage and Handling, 100 feet
  • Manure Stacks, 250 feet

Many homeowners tend to forget the value of good maintenance until problems reach crisis levels. That can be expensive. It’s better to maintain your well, find problems early, and correct them to protect your well’s performance. Keep up-to-date records of well installation and repairs plus pumping and water tests. Such records can help spot changes and possible problems with your water system. If you have problems, ask a local expert to check your well construction and maintenance records. He or she can see if your system is okay or needs work.

Protect your own well area. Be careful about storage and disposal of household and lawn care chemicals and wastes. Good farmers and gardeners minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Take steps to reduce erosion and prevent surface water runoff. Regularly check underground storage tanks that hold home heating oil, diesel, or gasoline. Make sure your well is protected from the wastes of livestock, pets, and wildlife.

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