When it comes to your water supply, you want it to be as healthy and clean as possible. People with a public water supply can rest easy because their water is regularly tested for bacteria and treated according. However, those with a private well need to test and treat on their own to ensure the water is as clean as possible.
Minimizing bacteria exposure in your water supply lies in proper well maintenance and regular testing.
Test water regularly
Test your water at least once a year, though the EPA recommends twice a year. Test for bacteria and other contaminates to keep the water supply as clean as possible. Test at the faucet and at the well.
If you notice continuous stomach bugs in the home, it is a good indication that there could be bacterial contamination of your water supply. You may need to test more often in this case.
If you notice a change in color, taste, or smell in the water in your home, test it. Though changes in color, taste, and smell are not indicative of a bacterial contamination, they are evidence of other contaminants present in the water supply that could cause illness.
Check the well regularly
The well needs to be inspected at least once a year to make sure it is clean and in proper working order. Mechanical issues with the well may increase the likelihood of bacterial contamination.
Keep hazardous chemicals away from the well
Anything that contains potentially hazardous chemicals such as:
- Motor oil
Should be kept as far away from the well as possible. If it gets too close or spills, it could seep into the ground, affecting the water from the well. If something containing hazardous chemicals does spill into the ground near the well, have the water tested and treated as soon as possible.
If you are mixing chemicals, do not place your water hose directly in the mixing container. This could siphon chemicals back to your well and affect your water supply.
Check the well cap regularly
Make sure your well cover or well cap is properly sealed on top of the well. It should be at least one foot above ground for easy access. If it is not in place, you are increasing the risk of contamination. If it is damaged, have it replaced.
Check for proper separation
Contact a professional contractor to make sure there is adequate separation between the home, the well, septic/sewer systems, and chemical storage locations.
Use a water filter
Installing a filtration system at the well can help reduce the amount of contaminants that make it to your tap. Installing a filter at the tap can help further filter the water to ensure it is clean as possible.
Since bacteria in a water supply cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled, water testing is the only way to confirm whether or not it is present. Water testing can provide results within 48 hours, but can only tell if the bacteria are in the water. Lab testing is required to determine how much bacteria are present.
Once the well has been in service for 20 years, it has likely reached the end of its lifespan. Consult with a professional contractor to decommission the existing well and have a new one built. Using an older well increases the likelihood of bacterial contamination.