Most Americans rely on the federal or state government for their drinking water. This means that their drinking water is carefully regulated and supplied through their community.
While that’s the case for the majority, 15% of the population relies on their own sources of water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
There are 13 million households that get their drinking water through the private wells installed in their property. The question is, is it safe to drink well water?
That’s what water testing companies, like Simple Water, are for.
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Where Does Well Water Come From?
Private wells are installations that allow people to tap into aquifers.
In a nutshell, aquifers are void spaces below the ground that get filled with water, often with enough pressure that allows it to rise through wells.
Water coming from such sources are also referred to as groundwater.
How Safe Is Your Well Water?
This water is usually deemed potable, but there are factors that you should consider for added safety:
How deep does the well go? How was it constructed? Is it built in an area where water naturally flows away from it?
As a general rule of thumb, the deeper your well is, the safer it will be. However, wells that are not structurally sound can pose health risks over time.
In addition, observe the direction of rainwater flow. You’d want it to be flowing away from your well. This will minimize the contaminants that can potentially seep into your groundwater.
Do you have other members within your local community who also rely on groundwater? How is their overall experience?
Are there nearby facilities that can potentially contaminate your water source (such as factories and livestock farms)?
It is recommended for wells to be constructed at least 50 feet away from livestock yards and septic tanks.
It should also be at least 100 feet away from petroleum tanks and 250 feet away from manure stacks. This also includes any pipe systems installed.
How long have your private well been used? Did the previous owners of the property use it as their source of drinking water, as well?
If so, when was the last time its water has been tested? You also want to check nearby storage tanks for leaks, especially those that hold diesel or gasoline.
We recommend getting your water systems and storage tanks fixed by professionals as much as possible.
You’d also want to get your water tested immediately as soon as the leak has been spotted or suspected.
Gasoline is particularly toxic, whether it is ingested or not. It can cause accidental poisoning that can even lead to death if you’re not careful.
According to a paper published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ingesting just 12 ounces of gasoline is already a lethal dosage.
Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect accidental ingestion.
Is It Safe to Drink Well Water?
The EPA does not regulate private wells, nor does it provide standards that you can use to deem the potability of well water.
While the factors mentioned above can give you an idea of the water’s quality, they are still not enough to ensure your family’s health and safety.
There’s a risk that your groundwater can be contaminated due to several reasons.
For one, it can pick up elements such as heavy metals from the rocks that it passes through. Pollutants, such as household and factory waste, can seep into the ground and compromise it.
Also, traces of microorganisms can find their way into your water and get you sick, especially after an extended period of exposure.
Hence, the best way to ensure the potability of your well water is to have it tested by a trusted testing facility.
What Is Simple Water?
Simple Water is the California-based company behind the largest residential water testing service in the country, Tap Score Water Testing.
It is undoubtedly expensive to invite experts to your location to get your water tested. For this reason, what they offer are affordable send-away kits for your convenience.
These DIY kits allow you to test your water from the comforts of your own home. It comes with an instruction manual for the procedure, along with the necessary testing implements.
You will then be required to get the water samples from your source (in this case, your well), then send it back to their facility to be tested.
After, you will receive a detailed report on the present contaminants in the sample you sent, along with the necessary information to properly gauge any present health hazard.
Tap Score Well Water Testing Kits
Tap Score offers various testing kits according to the specific water sources you want to test for better accuracy.
As for well water, they are currently offering three kits: Essential, Advanced, and Extended Well Water Test.
The Essential Well Water Test is recommended for those who own a private or shared well located near sources of potential bacterial contaminants, such as septic tanks and livestock farms.
The Advanced Well Water Test is recommended for those who suspect potential bacterial contaminants, as mentioned above, along with a possible threat from oil and gas operations.
The Extended Well Water Test is recommended for those who require a full check across all contaminants, including pesticide, radiation, and silica and tannin levels.
The Risks of Drinking Untested Water
The challenge in determining potential health risks from untested water is that these threats are not always immediately apparent.
Your well water may be free from peculiar odors, look perfectly clear, and even taste fresh while still being compromised with contaminants that can cause immediate or long-term health risks.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that these risks include gastrointestinal, reproductive, and even neurological issues.
Infants, young children, and pregnant women are especially at risk, along with elderly people and those who have compromised immune systems due to medical conditions.
Untested water can also cause outbreaks, such as Hepatitis A and Giardia. To make matters worse, there may even be toxic substances present, such as arsenic, nitrate, and selenium.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has marked most of them carcinogenic, especially for humans.
How Often Should You Get Well Water Tested?
The answer to this largely depends on the depth of your private well.
Deep wells must be tested at least once a year, while shallow wells and surface waters must be tested more frequently.
The shallower the water source is, the more vulnerable it is to contaminant exposure. This is because they won’t have to travel much into the ground to seep in.
Furthermore, those that have a water delivery system installed must test both at the tap and at the source. This will help determine where the contamination is, should there be any.
While the source may be deemed safe, who knows what kind of elements your water encounters as it travels from the aquifer to your home?
Are Tests Needed Even If You Don’t Intend to Drink Well Water?
It is still highly recommended to test well water even if you have no intention of drinking it.
The reason behind this is that there are contaminants that can cause severe dermatological reactions after prolonged exposure.
There are also substances that can harm animals and crops.
So, is it safe to drink well water? Yes and no.
Drinking untested well water is risky and can cause serious health problems.
The risks are particularly higher with the presence of certain installations and facilities nearby, such as factories, oil storage tanks, and waste management units.
Thus, getting well water tested is key to ensure its quality and potability.
Thankfully, water testing facilities, like Simple Water, can assist you in determining any contaminants that may be present in your water and cause harm.