Water Well Systems: FAQ

Increasing numbers of people these days are becoming more interested in the source and the quality of the water they drink. This concern partially explains the boom in the purchase of bottled water, but there is also new interest in the water we consume at home. A special interest has been shown in recent years for water well systems, and here are some of the questions that the owners of wells most frequently ask:

What is the source of the water I get at home?

Home drinking water supplies originate at either one of two sources. One is above water sources, such as from a reservoir. The other is an underground source, such as a well drilled into the ground. Public drinking water has been treated to make it cleaner and safer to drink. Well water is usually on private property and therefore is usually untreated. However, well water can be of very high quality, perhaps even surpassing the taste and cleanliness of private sources. However, owners of private wells must assume the responsibility of determining whether their water is free of contaminants.

What contaminants endanger my well water?

Well owners need to be on guard against a number of possible pollutants. Some contaminants are completely natural and exist in the ground itself. These include uranium, arsenic, radon and other undesirable minerals and chemicals. Nearby farms can pose a risk to well water, with fertilizers, livestock and pesticides possibly leaking into the ground water. Industrial and manufacturing plants, sewers and nearby septic systems also pose a threat.

What are the warning signs of a contaminated well?
Any change in the normal taste or smell of your well water should be considered cause enough to have your water tested. Alterations in taste and smell do not necessarily mean that anything is wrong, but you should make sure. Tests for bacteria and contaminants like nitrate, lead or mercury. Your local health department may be able to help alert you to what kinds of contaminants are most common to your area. They can also offer you guidance about what to do if your tests come back positive for certain pollutants.

How often should a well be tested?

Every well owner should have their well tested every year. The test should identify the total amount of coliform bacteria, any contaminants in the form of dissolved solids and the pH levels. You might want to test more than once a year if you hear that other well owners in your area are having problems or if you replace or repair a major aspect of your water well system. You can usually discover through the health and environmental agencies in your area who will test your water. Sometimes those departments themselves will do it. If not, then your water well provider can test it for you.

Water well systems can be a good, reliable, healthy and delicious way to bring water into your home. However, to ensure that there are no problems, the homeowner must remain diligent in monitoring and protecting their ground water supply.

Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher based in Austin, Texas. He recently looked into residential water systems and he recommends his readers to learn more about water well systems.

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