Special Water Problems
Problem water can be an issue for both private well owners and those whose water is supplied by a water utility company. Most water utility companies have strict standards to ensure that the most common water problems and contaminants stay out of their water supplies. When you own a private well, you are your own water utility company.
A home using a private well obtains the water via drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers for its water source. Usually the well water is drawn to the surface by a submersible pump. Wells can vary greatly in depth, water volume and water quality. Well water typically contains more minerals than surface water. Due to these factors, these water sources may require extra treatment methods to soften the water by removing minerals such as calcium, magnesium, arsenic, iron and manganese, as well as to treat special problems such as bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal contamination, pH imbalances, and chlorine level issues.
Calcium and magnesium causes what is known as hard water, which can clog pipes or burn out water heaters. Iron and manganese can appear as dark flecks that stain clothing and plumbing, and can promote the growth of iron and manganese bacteria that can form slimy black colonies that clog pipes.
Shallow pumping wells can often supply drinking water at a very low cost, but because impurities from the surface easily reach shallow sources, a greater risk of contamination occurs for these wells when compared to deeper wells.
The quality of the well water can be significantly increased by lining the well, sealing the well head, ensuring the area is kept clean and free from stagnant water and animals, moving sources of contamination (latrines, garbage pits) and carrying out hygiene education. It is important that the well is cleaned with 1% chlorine solution after construction and periodically every 6 months.
Outbreaks of waterborne disease in the U.S. are mostly associated with private or communal water wells, or other non-community water systems. Most of the bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that contaminate well water comes from humans and other animal fecal material.
Common bacterial contaminants include:
- E. coli
- Campylobacter jejuni
Common viral contaminants include:
- hepatitis A and E
- Giardia lamblia
Chemical contamination is a common problem with groundwater.
Nitrates from sewage or fertilizer are a particular problem for children. Pesticides and volatile organic compounds, from many sources are the most commonly occurring pollutant chemicals in the U.S., and may be identifiable in more than a third of all U.S. wells, although this is mostly at levels below U.S. water standards. Some chemicals are commonly present in water wells at levels that are not toxic, but which can cause other problems.
Upon the construction of a new test well, it is considered best practice to invest in a series of chemical and biological tests on the well water in question.
Many consumers do not know they can obtain the results of an annual comprehensive water test performed by their municipal water supplier at no charge!
For those of us responsible for our own water supply, it is important to conduct a comprehensive well water test. EcoWater Spokane water technicians are trained to test and evaluate water. They can offer the various solutions available to treat any issues you may be having.