Private Well Water Concerns
The biggest concern about water quality on a private well is simply the homeowner's level of commitment to ensuring quality water.
Many homeowners on a private well are under the assumption that because they are on a well that somehow their water is better than that of people on city water.
In this area the majority of private wells are tapping into the same aquifers that the cities use.
The difference being that on city water, the quality is tested every day for some contaminants but everything is tested quarterly to once a year.
As the president of your family's community water service district, what have you done in the past 90 days to insure the quality of your family's water?
Frightfully the answer by most is nothing. Because you are reading this article and educating yourself, you are already becoming more prepared for the responsibility that many never take seriously.
Disinfection of bacteria
The primary concern of private wells is disinfection for the water. The municipal water has chlorine in it to kill any bacteria. Chlorine is not the best way of killing bacteria but it is very effective.
Your water should be tested at least once per year, regardless if you have a system or not. Water changes. It may be fine today but who knows what your neighbor is doing up the road and what he is dumping into the ground that is affecting your ground water.
If your water smells it should be checked. Does your water ever stain your sinks, clothes or anything else?
Private well concerns are similar to the concerns in municipal water that comes from a ground water supply, only your water is not regulated so you need to be on top of the testing.
Calcium in the water will wreck your plumbing. Your clothes won't come out clean. Most peoples skin will be dry. Frizzy hair is usually a problem. Appliances that use water may only last half as long as they should. When you clean the shower you have to use very harsh chemicals.
With hard water you will use 3 or 4 times the amount of soaps and detergents that you use in soft water.
The cost of putting up with hard water is tremendous. It is always less expensive to fix the hard water than to put up with the problems.
NITRATE is naturally occurring in soil, and is therefore expected in varying levels in drinking water. It is the most commonly encountered chemical contaminant that is also a health concern. Well water typically contains less than 5 mg/L nitrate, but higher levels are possible, especially in areas of high runoff and fertilizer use and/or decaying vegetable or animal mater. Levels higher than 10 mg/L are potentially harmful, especially to infants and young people. This is due to the fact that nitrate is converted to NITRITE in the blood of infants which inhibits the ability of blood to carry oxygen. This is known as "blue baby syndrome" Nitrite is rarely encountered in drinking water. The presence of detectable levels of nitrite in drinking water indicates possible contamination from fertilizer or sewage.
FLUORIDE occurs naturally in many well water samples. At levels below 2 mg/L it is known to be beneficial to teeth and bones. Consuming water with fluoride levels above 4 mg/L for many years may result in "Fluorosis", a potentially crippling bone disorder.
SULFATE and CHLORIDE occur naturally in well water at levels ranging from 1 to several hundred mg/L. These contaminants are not a general health concern at levels normally found in drinking water. Above 100 mg/L, they can make water taste "salty". Consumption of water with exceptionally high sulfate concentrations (>400 mg/L) may cause diarrhea or stomach aches in children or infants. Certain types of harmless bacteria transform sulfate into SULFIDE , which causes the familiar "rotten egg" sulfur smell in drinking water.
LEAD occurs naturally in groundwater, but it is more often introduced into drinking water from corrosion of household plumbing. Slightly corrosive water flowing through pipes with lead solder, or water sitting for a long period of time in pipes may result in elevated lead levels (always let water run for 10-15 seconds before drinking). The EPA MCL (maximum contaminant limit) for lead is 0.015 mg/L. Higher levels could lead to brain damage, especially in children. Lead exposure is cumulative, meaning that lower exposure over a long period of time can result in detrimental health effects. Lead levels in household drinking water between 0.001 and 0.010 mg/L are common, with the majority being below 0.005 mg/L. Lead, in combination with sulfide, may cause a black gummy buildup around drains.
ARSENIC and BARIUM are naturally found in mineral deposits and well water. Arsenic is an acute toxin and potentially deadly at extremely high doses (100 mg single dose), and a cumulative toxin and possible human carcinogen at lower levels in drinking water (0.05 mg/L). In our area, arsenic is rarely detected in drinking water. Unlike arsenic, barium is not accumulated in the body and health effects are acute, resulting in gastrointestinal, neuromuscular, and cardiac problems. The EPA MCL for barium is 2 mg/L. In our area, barium levels below the EPA MCL are common.
CADMIUM, CHROMIUM, and MERCURY are introduced into drinking water by improper disposal of waste containing these chemicals. Cadmium can also come from corrosion of galvanized pipes. These metals are not widely found in well water in our area. It has been demonstrated that levels below the EPA MCL limits are safe with respect to health risks. All three of these contaminants are known to damage kidney function.
NICKEL, SILVER and SELENIUM are naturally occurring metals and are rarely found in significant amounts in well water in this area of the country. Selenium is an essential nutrient at low levels, but consumption of water containing levels higher than the EPA MCL of 0.05 mg/L over a long period of time may result in adverse health effects. Consumption of high levels of nickel has been linked to heart and liver damage. The only known effect of large doses of silver is argyria, defined as a bluish-grey discoloration of the skin.
SODIUM is naturally occurring in all drinking water at a wide range of levels. The EPA does not have an MCL for sodium, but it is recommended that persons suffering from high blood pressure not consume water with levels of sodium greater than 20 mg/L for an extended period of time. Sodium will impart a salty taste to water at levels above 200 mg/L.
IRON is the second most common inorganic contaminant in well water, behind nitrate. Iron is essential to human nutrition and is not a health concern at levels encountered in normal drinking water. Iron is responsible for metallic taste and orange staining of fixtures and sinks. Levels of iron in water can vary from 0.1 up to as much as 20 mg/L.
MAGNESIUM and CALCIUM occur at different concentrations in all natural water from 1 to as high as 200 mg/L. A high magnesium or calcium value, or a combination of both, result in water with a high hardness. Hardness values up to 50 are considered soft water. From 50 to 150 is moderately hard water, from 150-300 is hard, and greater than 300 is very hard water. Hard water may cause white staining of windows and other glass surfaces and may inhibit soap lathering. Hard water is NOT a health concern, and is very common in this area.
TDS is a measure of the total dissolved solids in your water. A TDS above 500 indicates a large amount of dissolved salts such as magnesium, calcium, nitrate, etc.
Call to schedule your FREE water test today.