Safe drinking water is one of the basics of life that we take for granted. When we turn on the faucet, we expect the water to be safe to drink. If you are on the county water system, the water that you receive has been tested and meets safe drinking water standards.
But not everyone receives water from a municipal source. There are many private water wells in the area. The owners of these wells expect the water that they pump out of the ground to be safe to drink.
So, whose responsibility is it to make sure that the water coming from a private well is safe?
The owner of the well is responsible for testing the quality of the water that he or she is drinking.
Before those of you on municipal water stop reading, you can help protect the groundwater that others are using for drinking water. By properly disposing of household chemicals, oil, gasoline, paints and pesticides, you can reduce the amount of these products that get into our ground water.
Proper disposal is taking them somewhere for recycling, not pouring them on the ground or down the storm drain.
What does the owner of a well need to do to make sure that the water is safe to drink?
Just because the water is clear, has no odor or no bad taste doesn't mean that it is safe. Bacteria in water has no taste or odor. Testing your drinking water for bacteria is the most important test that you can perform. Bacteria can cause health problems. Flu-like symptoms and intestinal problems that don't go away could be an indication of bacteria in drinking water.
In Georgia, there are two main types of wells. Shallow wells are less than 100 feet deep. These wells are usually 24 inches in diameter. The other type is a deep well, which is more than 100 feet deep. These wells are four to six inches in diameter.
Shallow wells usually have more problems with bacteria than deep wells. We recommend that you have your well tested for bacteria at least once a year. You can contact your local Extension office, your local Health Department or the Columbia County Water Department about testing.
You need to call before taking the sample because there are specific instructions on how to do it.
How do you protect your well from bacteria?
You need to do a visual inspection of the area around your well. Wells need to be located 100 feet away and uphill from the septic system or animal confinement areas. There should be no trees close to the well. Tree roots growing into wells are a major source of bacteria. Well houses should be cleaned out. This is not a good place to store gasoline, oil or pesticides. The well should be properly sealed and grouted. Wells that are not sealed properly allow insects, rodents and other unwanted guests into your well.
Other problems that occur in wells are high mineral content. Most of the minerals in our water don't cause health problems, but they can cause stains. Most of the questions that I get deal with reddish, black or blue-green stains in sinks, tubs and plumbing fixtures.
These stains are caused by high mineral content in the water. The reddish stains are from iron, and the black stains are from manganese. These are the two that exceed EPA's secondary drinking water levels. Both of these minerals can be removed by filtration systems.
The blue-green stains are from copper. There are low levels of copper in our ground water from the copper pipes in the house. The pH of the water is low and the pipes start corroding. This problem can be solved by raising the pH of the water with a different type of filtration system.
How do you know which filtration system you need or if you need a filtration system?
Filtration systems can cost anywhere from $100 to $6,000. Before spending money on a system you don't need, you need to have the water tested. A water test from unbiased labs will give you a good indication of the type of filtration system needed.
The test costs very little and can save you money. For more information on water test, you can contact me or the local County Extension Office.
The safety of a private water well is the responsibility of the well owner. So, test the water in your well to keep you and your family safe.
Reach Charles Phillips at (706) 868-3413, or email@example.com
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