Private drinking wells should be tested each year
The Kentucky Division of Water is reminding private water well owners to regularly test their wells during Groundwater Awareness Week, March 8-14. The awareness week emphasizes the importance of groundwater to communities and the actions Kentuckians can take to protect this vital natural resource.
Groundwater is the water from rain or other precipitation that soaks into the ground and moves downward to fill cracks and other openings in soil and rock. It is an abundant natural resource making up 90 percent of the world’s fresh water.
David Jackson, DOW’s groundwater section supervisor, recommends regular testing for private water wells before peak water use season begins. “An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water,” he said.
Private well water use is not covered by the protections offered to public water system users under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is the responsibility of the domestic well user to ensure that their private drinking water source is safe for use. Preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance. Proper well maintenance — like proper car maintenance — can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. DOW recommends testing your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, or appearance, or when the system is serviced.
Wells can provide high-quality drinking water. Approximately 265,000 Kentucky households receive drinking water from private wells. Well owners have the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order. A well check by a qualified water well contractor may include:
- A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding, and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact, and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).
- A well equipment inspection will assure the unit is sanitary and meets local code.
- A water test can be performed for total coliform, E. coli bacteria, arsenic, lead, copper and nitrates, and anything else of local concern. Additional typical tests are performed for iron, manganese, sodium, potassium, water hardness, sulfates, chlorides and nuisance bacteria, which can cause problems with plumbing, staining, water appearance, and odor.
DOW also recommends that well owners:
- Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from the well, and maintain a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between the well and any kennels and livestock operations.
- Maintain proper separation between the well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.
- Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.
- Keep well records in a safe place. These include the well construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.
For more information, call David Jackson or Scotty Robertson at (502) 564-3410, or visit the DOW website at http://water.ky.gov/groundwater/Pages/WellDrillersProgram.aspx.