Photograph of  a loose, unsanitary well plumbing system exposed to surface water runoffr  © DJ FriedmanWell Construction & Maintenance Details to Avoid Pollution

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Well construction advice: details to avoid polluted well water.

Proper well construction and continued maintenance are keys to the safety of your water supply. Your state water-well contractor licensing agency, local health department, or local water system professional can provide information on well construction.

The well [well casing head, which in a modern well should be protruding above ground] should be located so rainwater flows away from it. Rainwater can pick up harmful bacteria and chemicals on the land's surface. If this water pools near your well, it can seep into it, potentially causing health problems.

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Well Construction and Maintenance Details to Help Avoid Well Water Contamination

[Click to enlarge any image]

(See the two graphics below. One shows three types of well locations and how surface water drains. The other lists the distances from the well to guard against possible sources of pollution.)

[Note: don't assume that if your well is drilled in a spot with good surface drainage away - the "good" example at left - that guarantees that contaminated water won't leak into the well from below ground. Underground features such as buried sloping rock can still direct contaminated water into a well below ground, particularly if there are leaks in the casing or if the contaminated water is reaching the aquifer that feeds the well.-- DF]

Water-well drillers and pump-well installers are listed in your local phone directory. The contractor should be bonded and insured. Make certain your ground water contractor is registered or licensed in your state, if required. If your state does not have a licensing/registration program contact the National Ground Water Association.

They have a voluntary certification program for contractors. (In fact, some states use the Association's exams as their test for licensing.) For a list of certified contractors in your state contact the Association at (614) 898-7791 or (800) 551-7379. There is no cost for mailing or faxing the list to you.

To keep your well safe, you must be sure possible sources of contamination are not close by. Experts suggest the separation distances [shown at left] as a minimum for protection - farther is better.

Many homeowners tend to forget the value of good maintenance until problems reach crisis levels. That can be expensive. It's better to maintain your well, find problems early, and correct them to protect your well's performance.

Keep up-to-date records of well installation and repairs plus pumping and water tests. Such records can help spot changes and possible problems with your water system. If you have problems, ask a local expert to check your well construction and maintenance records. He or she can see if your system is okay or needs work.

Also see FLOOD CONTAMINATED WELL RESTORE & PROTECT where we discuss 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.

The graphic [at left] shows a good example of an animal-proof cap or seal and the casing of a well. Protect your own well area. Be careful about storage and disposal of household and lawn care chemicals and wastes. Good farmers and gardeners minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Take steps to reduce erosion and prevent surface water runoff. Regularly check underground storage tanks that hold home heating oil, diesel, or gasoline. Make sure your well is protected from the wastes of livestock, pets, and wildlife.

An animal or vermin proof cap prevents rodents from entering your well, being trapped and dying. Paving around your well will prevent polluted runoff from seeping into your water supply.

This text 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. [Editing for clarity by DF are marked by brackets or italics] Initial Source: EPA 816-K-02-003 January 2002. Edits, content addition, & web page design

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