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This article gives you general information about drinking water from home wells (also considered private
drinking water sources).
It describes types of activities in your area that can create threats to your water supply. It also describes problems to look for and offers maintenance suggestions. Sources for more information and help are also listed.
How Can we Spot Potential Well Water Contamination Problems?
The potential for pollution entering your well is affected by its placement and construction - how close is your well to potential sources of pollution? Local agricultural and industrial activities, your area's geology and climate also matter. This document includes a checklist to help you find potential problems with your well.
Take time to review it in the box labeled "Protecting Your Ground water Supply."
Because ground water contamination is usually localized, the best way to identify potential contaminants is to consult a local expert. For example, talk with a geologist at a local college or someone from a nearby public water system. They'll know about conditions in your area. (See item # 5)
[I have some other suggestions that have really paid off in the past when our clients were researching possible water contamination sources: Call water testing labs and home inspectors in your local area - these sources very often know about local pollutants. Talk to your neighbors - sometimes they know of very local problems or "events" that have contaminated nearby wells.
One of our clients was told by a neighbor that the local paper company had been dumping acetone and other chemical waste in a farmer's field right across the street from their well. We'd never have known to test for the particular chemicals involved had we not stumbled on this information - by asking. --DF]
[If you are buying a home, see Cheating on water tests: Testing Water for Real Estate Transactions - make sure your water test is valid ]
More Steps in Spotting & Protecting Wells from Water Contaminants or Pollutants
In the articles just below we describe the most common sources of well water contaminants.
FLOOD CONTAMINATED WELL RESTORE & PROTECT eplains the importance of protecting a well from polluted groundwater, of protecting groundwater from accidental pollutaion through open wells, and also how to return a well to operation and use after area flooding.
WELL FLOOD DAMAGE REPAIR describes how flood waters can cause well and water system piping contamination and what to do about it before using well water after area flooding.
For details on clues that can suggest water contamination problem, also see these non-EPA documents:
ODORS IN WATER - odors in drinking water may be harmless though unpleasant (such as some sulphur levels) or they may indicate dangerous methane gas contamination or unsanitary sewage contamination of the water supply.
WELL CLEARANCE DISTANCES - if the water well is located too close to certain site features or potential sources of contamination you have a visual warning that the sanitation of the well water may be undertain or inconsistent
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