Well water is the groundwater people get from wells. Generally speaking, there are many aquifers located underground. People can dig or drill a hole in the ground to access water from those aquifers. The well water is typically drawn up by a pump or manually using containers like a bucket.
Well water is a great water resource for areas that don’t have direct access to a city water source, which are the rural areas or areas outside of major cities. About 15 million Americans rely on private wells for drinking water.
Well water tends to have a higher mineral content. Calcium and magnesium are typical minerals found in well water, which the high level of these minerals might lead to the “hard water.” If your well water is “hard,” you may want to soften the well water using a water filtration system as “hard water” can lead to scale build-up and shorten the service life of your home appliances.
Benefits of Well Water
The advantages of having well water as the water source are pretty obvious, especially for people who live in rural areas. First of all, well water offers an endless water supply at a very low cost. The major cost of well water is the construction of the well at the beginning stage, after that, you don’t have to worry about any unpredictable costs and high water bills.
As the well water comes directly from the ground without any chemical treatment, the taste of well water is natural. Compared to pure water that doesn’t have a taste, well water is reported to have better taste. Depending on the areas where the wells locate, well water normally contains trace minerals that are beneficial for human bodies.
Dangers of Well Water
Despite the benefits of having well water as the main water source, there are a number of disadvantages of well water that can lead to a decline in your family’s overall health.
Well Water Contamination
Unlike the city public water systems that are covered and regulated by the EPA, well water can be contaminated through a variety of sources. The naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, pesticides from land-use practices, malfunctioning wastewater treatment all can lead to the contamination of well water. Once the well water gets contaminated, not only the household using the well would be affected, but also nearby households using the same aquifer.
Because the water is drawn up directly from the ground aquifer, well water usually contains more impurities than city water. Depending on how deep the well is, surface impurities can easily reach the shallow aquifer well and result in water contamination compared to that of the deeper wells.
The biggest concern of contaminated well water is the spread of a significant number of waterborne diseases. The common health problems from drinking contaminated well water include gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. People with weak immune systems like infants, children, the elderly, are especially vulnerable to illness from well water contaminants.
Heavy Metals in Well Water
Heavy metal is another significant hazard in well water, which it contaminate individual and private wells via groundwater movement as well as surface water run-off and penetration. The commonly found heavy metals in well water include arsenic, antimony, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and selenium.
Heavy metals would not lead to immediate health effects. Yet, people who consume or get exposed to high levels of heavy metals might result in chronic illness, damage to the liver, kidney, and intestine, anemia, and cancer. Based on a recent study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, arsenic in well water elevated the risk for bladder cancer.
Most of the heavy metals are not apparent in well water as they are tasteless, colorless and do not have an odor. Therefore, it is very difficult to tell whether the well water is safe or not using our bare eyes. Getting the well water tested and searching for solutions to remove the undesired substances in water are the right thing to do.
How to Drink Safe Well Water
It is the responsibility of the owners of private wells are responsible for keeping their well water free from contaminants. The owners should check the wells for the presence of contaminants, cleanliness, and mechanical problems every year. In order to ensure the safety of well water, a water filtration system is highly recommended to install before drinking well water directly.
Well Water Filtration Methods
A well water filtration system can physically remove contaminants and other impurities from the well water. It is a very reliable way to ensure the safety of your drinking water. Besides the efficiency of removing contaminants, water filtration systems are known for improving the water taste. The two popular types of well water filtration systems are whole house water filters and under sink water filters.
A whole house water filter is a well water filtration system that is installed into the main water line before well water enters the house. It filters the water and supplies filtered water to the entire house. Depending on the filtration accuracy, the filtered water can be used to wash, shower and drink.
The under sink water filter has been a popular water filtration system in recent years. It usually is installed under a kitchen sink and delivers filtered water from a specific tap. The under sink water filter is known for its excellent filtration performance that yields high-quality drinking water for the entire family.
How to Shock A Well
When you get your well water tested and the results show as positive, that means there are bacteria in the water. To remove the bacteria, the wells should be shock chlorinated.
Shocking the well on a regular basis would add another protecting layer to the safety of your well water. The common way of shocking a well is through shock chlorination, which refers to the process of adding chlorine bleach to the well water to kill bacteria.
Use a combination of dry chlorine granules and dry pellets then mix with water. This is considered to be the best way to sanitize the well. If you cannot find the dry bleach, the ordinary laundry bleach would also work. Make sure to add three pints of the bleach for every 100 gallons of water in the well.
Once you have dropped the bleach into the well, it’s necessary to circulate the water and mix the sanitizer thoroughly throughout the entire water system. The whole circulation takes about 15 minutes, then a strong chlorine odor should appear. Let the water run through all the service lines until you notice chlorine odor being presented at all taps.
Wait at least six hours for the sanitized water to stand in the system, which overnight is preferred. Turn on the faucet and flush your system until no chlorine odor can be detected. Repeat this flush step on every faucet in your water system.
When the chlorine water has been in the water system for a minimum of six hours, up to 12 hours, you can discharge the waste chlorine water. To avoid overloading your septic systems, it is recommended to discharge as much wastewater as possible through an outside faucet with a hose attachment.
You are advised to test the water about two to three weeks after sanitizing. If the report still shows positive, you should contact a water professional for further treatment.