Wells

Many homeowners in rural areas across the country utilize groundwater wells for their drinking water and potable water needs. There are many sources of well water contamination that can affect the quality of the water from these wells.

Well Water Contamination Testing Services - healthy tap water without well water contaminantsUnfortunately, in many areas, the groundwater quality has been impacted by both natural and manmade contaminants. If the subsurface formation contains natural deposits of uranium or its degradation products, it is possible that radon may be present in the groundwater brought to the surface. If not treated or filtered out, the radon gas can be released into the home's interior from the water at the faucets and from your appliances.

Arsenic is another possible source of well water contamination. Arsenic is both a naturally occurring element in many subsurface formations and soils and also a manmade contaminant associated with agricultural activites, such as herbicides and pesticides, etc.. Arsenic has been identified at elevated levels in the groundwater in many communities.

Neighborhoods and areas that were historically used for row crops or fruit groves have been identified as sources for pesticide and herbicide soil and groundwater contamination which can leach into the groundwater and contaminate nearby well water.

Chemical contaminants sourcing from leaking underground gasoline storage tanks (from gasoline stations, etc.) and other hazardous waste sites have also contributed to the contamination of groundwater reservoirs and drinking water supplies. Cancer clusters have been identified across the US where exposure routes have been linked to contaminated drinking water sources.

Well Water Contamination Testing

The only way to ensure that the water from your well is free from contaminants is to have it tested. Potential home buyers should have the water tested prior to purchase to ensure that you are not buying someone else's problem.  

Homeowners should have their water tested to ensure that the water they drink and bathe in is safe. The testing should include both the source water (well water) and inside tap water to verify that the water treatment system is properly treating the water prior to potable use. The source water should be tested to document the quality of the water before it is conditioned by the treatment system.

 

EnviroHome, Inc. suggests the following testing be completed for all private wells:

Total Dissolved Solids

The groundwater and treated water should be tested for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).  Higher TDS levels can result in higher contaminant levels including gross alpha radiation levels in the pumped groundwater.  The treated water entering the home should be clear and have no sediment, discoloration, or odor.  

Contaminated Well Water with SedimentIf the water entering the home is discolored in any way the TDS levels are likely elevated which is an indication that the water treatment system is not doing its job. In such cases the treatment system should be evaluated and/or serviced.

The federal drinking water standard (secondary standard) for allowable or recommended TDS level is 500 ppm (mg/l). TDS levels of 1000 ppm or more are an indication of a source water problem. TDS levels exceeding 2000 ppm is an indication of a problem that can’t be effectively addressed with a residential water treatment system and consideration should be given to drilling a replacement supply well and completing in a different aquifer zone. Many of the TDS problems (and associated radioactivity) stem from improperly constructed supply wells and/or as a result of setting wells in geologic zones that contain too high TDS levels.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Due to the historical agricultural activities throughout many of the areas which utilize drinking water wells, the supply water should also be tested for pesticides and herbicides. The pesticide Dieldrin was used extensively throughout orange groves during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Arsenic was used extensively as an agricultural weed control in many groves and row crops. Herbicides and pesticides have been used in a variety of different ways in agricultural activities, on golf courses and even in home residential gardens.  Many of these chemicals do not breakdown readily in the natural environment and as a result, are still present in the surface and subsurface soils where they can and do leach into the drinking water. 

Radon

The supply water coming out of the ground (upstream of the home treatment system) should be tested for radon by first measuring gross alpha radiation. A second sample should be taken from inside the home, down steam of the home’s water treatment system. 

Testing Services for Well Water Contamination  A comparison of these two sample results will indicate how much radioactivity is present within the source water (well water) and how effective the home's treatment system is in removing the radioactivity. Raw water gross alpha levels of 3 pCi/l or less should be considered consistent with the background levels and within the range that can be safely treated by a properly designed and maintained water treatment system.

If gross alpha levels exceeding 3 pCi/l are identified in the supply water sample the home should also be tested for the presence of radon gas. If the gross alpha level exceeds 5 pCi/l in the supply water sample, a follow-up sample should be collected and analyzed for radium 226/228.

If the interior water sample gross alpha level exceeds 1 pCi/l then the water treatment system should be serviced and/or modified. The interior gross alpha sampling should be performed annually and after any modifications to the water treatment system to verify the performance of the treatment system.  

Treated water gross alpha levels of 1 pCi/l or less are an indication that the treatment system is effectively treating the raw water.  Gross alpha levels above 1 pCi/l are an indication that the treatment system is not effectively addressing the removal of the radioactivity in the supply water and system modifications and/or servicing are necessary.

Septic Systems

In most rural areas septic systems are utilized in conjunction with private potable supply wells.  In response, the drinking supply water should be tested for fecal and non-fecal coliform which if present, may be an indication of contamination from the septic system.

Importance of the Maintenance of Your Water Treatment System

The water treatment system must be properly designed and maintained. Test results have shown that elevated interior gross alpha radiation levels (and elevated TDS levels) are commonly the result of improperly designed and/or maintained water treatment systems. 

Clean Drinking Well Water for better health Any discoloration in the water is an indication of the presence of minerals, sediments, and TDS which all are an indication that the treatment system is not doing its job.

Make sure that you have the correct water treatment equipment that will effectively address the measured total dissolved solids (TDS) levels within the groundwater. Inside measured TDS levels should not exceed 500 ppm and should be as low as possible. 

The federal drinking water standard (secondary standard) for allowable or recommended TDS level is 500 ppm (mg/l). TDS levels of 1000 ppm or more are an indication of a source water problem. TDS levels exceeding 2000 ppm is an indication of a problem that can’t be effectively addressed with a residential water treatment system and consideration should be given to drilling a replacement supply well and completing in a different aquifer zone.

Many of the TDS problems (and associated radioactivity) stem from improperly constructed supply wells and/or as a result of setting wells in geologic zones that contain too high TDS levels.

Make sure the back-flush on your treatment system is working and back-flushing at the specific intervals. If you are not sure about the settings and requirements, you should contact your equipment supplier. All of the equipment must be maintained and serviced regularly.

Many homeowners have maintenance service contracts which are a good idea as long as you contract with a reputable and knowledgeable vendor. These systems should be looked at weekly by the homeowners and serviced professionally at least twice per year.

The key to having safe drinking water is a properly designed and maintained water treatment and delivery system and conducting periodic testing to confirm that the system is working correctly.

To have your well water tested for potentially dangerous or unhealthy contamination sources contact EnviroHome at 888-810-2228.