If you use a private well for your home water supply, you may have some concerns about its safety. You’re not alone. Many well owners like you have expressed concerns over the safety of their water.
Unlike public water systems that are treated by local water authorities, your well water undergoes no public treatment. Its safety depends solely on what you do.
There are possible dangers to using well water, and the first step to making your well water safe for use is to know these dangers.
This website has discussed the problems that high levels of sulfur and iron in well water can cause for goats, causing deficiencies in copper and selenium, but in this post, we’ll be discussing the possible dangers for humans who are drinking well water and show you how you can handle them so that your well water becomes safe.
What Makes Well Water Unsafe?
Water becomes unsafe for use when it contains contaminants. Your well water likely contains these:
When it rains, microorganisms like E. coli bacteria, viruses, and parasites can easily get washed into your well, especially if it is not well covered. But even when covered, microorganisms could still seep into your well, contaminating the water. Sewage from underground tanks like septic systems could also be the leak source.
Drinking water that contains microorganisms puts you at risk of waterborne diseases and infections.
Hard water ions
Hard water ions exist naturally in underground rocks and well water. Although hard water may pose no severe health danger, it’s not easy to use. It leaves residue on clothes and dishes and ruins water appliances like washing machines and water heaters.
Harmful chemicals like nitrates are found in pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. These chemicals seep deep into the surrounding soil and contaminate the groundwater. Your well water comes from groundwater, so if these chemicals are used near your well’s location, there’s a very high chance that your water is contaminated. Industrial waste disposal could also introduce chemical contaminants into your well since many industries dispose of chemical waste in landfills.
If your well water contains high levels of chemical contaminants, it puts you at risk of heart diseases, cancer, or even reproductive issues.
Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, copper, and iron can get into your water from groundwater or rock surfaces.
Drinking water that contains high amounts of heavy metals like lead and arsenic can cause kidney and liver dysfunction, heart-related diseases, and even cancer. Iron and manganese can ruin the color and taste of your well water and reduce the lifespan of your water appliances.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in underground rocks, so it is commonly found in wells and other groundwater sources.
Although relatively healthy, too much fluoride in water can cause damage to teeth, bones, and joints.
You can confirm the presence of any of these contaminants in your well water by sending your water sample to a certified water laboratory for testing. Once you know the exact pollutants present in your well water, your next step is to choose a treatment option.
How to Make Your Well Water Safe
Use water filters
An effective way to make your well water safe is to install water filters in your home. Water filters purify water by filtering out contaminants. There are various types suitable for specific pollutants.
Reverse osmosis filters, for example, are best for removing chemical and metal contaminants. This will also remove sulfur, which makes your water stink like rotten eggs.
Ion exchange filters remove hardness minerals like calcium carbonate, while activated carbon filters will effectively eliminate chlorine and other specific organic compounds.
You may install water filters as under-sink, counter-top, or whole-house systems. To help you with your choice of filter systems, here’s a list of the best water filtration systems for well water for whole house use.
Use water softeners
If your well water is hard you should install a water softener.
It contains resin beads that replace minerals ions in the water with sodium ions. Once calcium and magnesium are out of your water, it becomes soft and easier to use.
As with water filters, there are various types of water softeners. They could be salt-based, salt-free, or magnetic.
Use water distillers
Water distillers will help you get rid of over 99% of contaminants in your water. You can bank on them to make your well water safe. Here’s how they work:
A boiling chamber boils your water at a very high temperature until it vaporizes. As it vaporizes, the water goes into a separate section called the condenser. Metal and chemical contaminants cannot be vaporized, so they stay back in the boiling chamber, where they are easily removed. The water in the condenser is converted back to a liquid state, and it passes through a carbon post filter and into a clean reservoir.
The initial boiling process kills any form of microorganisms in water. The vaporization separates chemical and metal contaminants and the post-filter traps powerful contaminants like VOCs. Using water distillers makes your water safe and potable.
Disinfect your well
If your water test reveals a high level of microorganisms, you should disinfect your well by using any of these disinfection methods:
- Shock chlorination: Adding high amounts of chlorine or chlorine dioxide to your well. You should consult a professional about this option so that you don’t use too little or too much.
- UV light disinfection: Using UV light as a physical disinfectant to purify water. High levels of UV light will neutralize microorganisms.
- Heat disinfection: Boiling water at a very high temperature. The CDC confirms that boiling can effectively remove microorganisms from water.
Even with treatment options in place, you should maintain the safety of your well water by:
- Covering your well properly.
- Carrying out water tests annually to ensure that there are no new contaminants in your well water.
- Regularly inspecting your well and waste systems for cracks or leakages. You should correct such minor issues as soon as they occur.
Well water may be susceptible to various contaminants, but using an appropriate treatment method will make your well water clean and safe for consumption.
Remember, getting a water test done is necessary to help you choose the correct method. Water filters, distillers, softeners, and disinfection systems are effective options to make your well water safe to use.