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What Every Well Water User Should Know

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Ancient Egyptians depended on them when the Nile River couldn’t provide water that was safe enough to drink. The Roman Empire utilized them to supply the intricate plumbing and sewage system for their capital city. And if not for their efficacy, many desert cities would have succumbed to their surrounding environments long ago.

So what basic utility could possibly stand a test of time so great that it’s still being used today, thousands of years since its inception?

Since the dawn of the ages, mankind has depended on wells to supply them with life-giving water in the harshest of environments. Without the use of water wells, civilizations of the past would have been hard-pressed to supply their communities with potable drinking water that was safe for human consumption.

One of the most remarkable facts about wells is that even after thousands of years of use, they are still being used to supply households and businesses with groundwater for drinking, irrigation and sanitation.

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But are today’s wells really that safe for drinking water? What about your family’s water supply? Does your well run the risk of becoming an obsolete hole in the ground, running dry sometime in the foreseeable future and without warning?

If you’re relying on well water to keep your household hydrated, then there are some important things that you need to know, because when it comes to making sure that your family is provided with an adequate water source, nothing is more essential than the condition of your well.

Is My Well Water Safe For Drinking?

One of the first questions that most people ask when moving from a home that’s dependent on city or county water to a homestead that’s fed by a groundwater well is this: Is the well water safe to drink? After all, most people that are accustomed to living on public water are familiar with the reassurances from their local, state and federal government bodies that public water supplies are completely safe for washing dishes, taking showers, and of course, drinking.

In fact, the Environment Protection Agency passed the Safe Water Drinking Act in 1974 to assure the general public that appropriate measures would be taken to provide the general public with safe drinking water. The Act also stipulates that the EPA must review potential contaminants in the public water supply every five years and determine if any new contaminants need to be regulated – through water treatment strategies like chemical applications that control contaminant levels in the public water supply.

According to a series on water pollution by The New York Times, the Safe Water Drinking Act is responsible for regulating more than 90 types of contaminants in the public water supply by utilizing more than 60,000 different types of chemicals to do so. Many scientists have called into question the safety of the chemicals that are being used to treat our public water supplies, linking many of them to cancer and other diseases.  Many compounds known to produce carcinogenic results after being exposed to sunlight are in our drinking water. In Los Angeles, authorities took the dramatic step of blocking out the sun – using thousands of tiny black balls on top of the water — in an effort to prevent these carcinogens from forming in the public water supply.

well water -- istock photoThankfully, users of groundwater don’t have to worry about sun-loving carcinogens or other manmade chemicals that are being pumped through public water supplies – but there are still legitimate issues that can arise from your well water, so it’s important to take a few simple steps to ensure that your water is safe to drink.

Most of the responsibility that comes with supplying your home with groundwater from a well falls directly on you. City or county authorities issue well water permits prior to construction, and may require a home water analysis to be performed prior to signing off on the project’s completion. Most states also require well water safety tests to be performed prior to selling or leasing a home. These kits are easy to use, affordable, and can be found at most home supply stores throughout the U.S.

Remember that after the local government signs off on your well, the safety of the well becomes your obligation. Make sure that you test your well water regularly. If any contaminants are detected, following a simple chlorination procedure can eliminate most bacterial threats to your water supply.

Can My Well Run Dry?

Another concern that many homeowners living on wells have is the possibility of their well running dry. Although most water well owners that have wells dug professionally have little to worry about, it’s still not uncommon for wells to dry out on occasion – sometimes permanently.

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Most professionally dug wells are designed to reach groundwater aquifers – bodies of underground rock that are permeable and saturated, allowing water to flow easily through them. These porous aquifers allow water to gradually seep in, acting as a natural filter for water before it is pumped back up to the surface.

Contrary to popular belief, well drillers aren’t aiming for underground rivers when they’re installing wells on a property. Instead, aquifers rely on water that seeps in slowly, naturally trapping particles and sediment that could contaminate your well water with harmful chemicals and bacteria.

Several factors can contribute to a well running dry, but most factors are due to operator error rather than natural occurrences.

If a household pumps out so much water that it brings the well’s water level down below the pump, then the well is considered “dry,” at least for the moment. But just because most wells will fill back up when they’re given a break from a household’s excessive water usage, that doesn’t mean that thirsty homeowners are completely out of the woods.  Running a well dry can severely damage your water pump, which can cost thousands of dollars to replace.

Most homeowners that live on a well will notice the water pressure decreasing substantially when they’re running low on water. If this ever happens, it’s important to discontinue water use until the well has a chance to rise back up to its optimal level.

If you’re still experiencing low water pressure, and your well pump is kicking on several times per minute, it could indicate a leak in your pipes between your well pump and your pressure tank.

Final Thoughts

If you’re living on a well, then you’re relying on a method of obtaining clean, abundant drinking water that has been in place for ages. Although there are some great benefits to supplying your home with groundwater from a natural aquifer, it’s still important to take a few steps to ensuring that your well stands the test of time, both in cleanliness as well as abundance.

Because during this day in age, the only person you can depend on for safe drinking water is yourself.

What are your tips for keeping well water abundant and safe to drink? Leave them in the section below:

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