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What's In The Source Of Your Drinking Water? 
Test Kits Help You Find Out.

About Your Well Water
Approximately 42 million people in the U.S. obtain drinking water from their own private sources. Most of these supplies are drawn from ground sources through wells, but some households also use sources from streams or cisterns. EPA does not oversee private wells, although some state and local governments do set rules to protect users of these wells. EPA encourages these households to take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their source.

Click here to view the entire collection of  drinking water test kits.

If your use sources from your own well, do you know if your source is safe to drink? What health risks could you and your family face? We suggest you test your source soon. Click here for drinking water test kits.

All of us need clean drinking water. We can go for weeks without food, but only days without this precious liquid. Contaminated sources can be a threat to anyone’s health, but especially to young children.

To help protect families with their own wells, almost all states license or register well installers. Most also have construction standards for home wells. In addition, some city and county health departments have local rules and permitting. All this helps make sure the well is built properly. But what about checking to see that it is working correctly and the source is always healthy to drink? That is the job of the well owner, and it takes some work and some knowledge.

What Is Ground Water And How Can It Be Polluted? 
This is a resource found under the earth’s surface. It most often comes from rain and melting snow soaking into the ground. It fills the spaces between rocks and soils, making an “aquifer”. About half of our nation’s household consumption comes from ground sources. Most are supplied through public systems. About 15 percent of Americans have their own sources, such as wells, cisterns, and springs.

Ground sources — its depth from the surface, quality available for consumption, and chance of being polluted — varies from place to place. Generally, the deeper the well, the better the ground source.

Ground sources may contain some natural impurities or contaminants, even with no human activity or pollution. Natural contaminants can come from many conditions in the watershed or in the ground. Sources moving through underground rocks and soils may pick up magnesium, calcium and chlorides. Some ground sources naturally contains dissolved elements such as arsenic, boron, selenium, or radon, a gas formed by the natural breakdown of radioactive uranium in soil. 

Whether these natural contaminants are health problems depends on the amount of the substance present.

A “watershed” is the land area where waters soak through the earth filling an underground supply or aquifer. It is also called a recharge area. The “water-table” is the line below which the ground is saturated or filled with liquid and available for pumping. The table will fall during dry seasons. A well can pump from either the saturated zone or an aquifer. Wells must be deep enough to remain in the saturated zone.

In addition to natural contaminants, ground sources are often polluted by human activities such as:

  • Improper use of fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides.

  • Improperly built or poorly located and/or maintained septic systems for household wastewater.

  • Leaking or abandoned underground storage tanks and piping.

  • Storm-drainage that discharges chemicals to ground sources.

  • Improper disposal or storage of wastes.

  • Chemical spills at local industrial sites.

Quick Reference List of Noticeable Problems:

  • Visible 
    Scale or scum from calcium or magnesium salts in a the drinking source. 
    Unclear or turbidity from dirt, clay salts, silt or rust.
    Green stains on sinks or faucets caused by high acidity. 
    Brown-red stains on sinks, dishwasher, or clothes in wash points to dissolved iron. 
    Cloudiness that clears upon standing may have air bubbles from poorly working pump or problem with filters.

  • Tastes 
    Salty or brackish taste from high sodium content.
    Alkali/soapy taste from dissolved alkaline minerals.
    Metallic taste from acidity or high iron content. 
    Chemical taste from industrial chemicals or pesticides

  • Smell 
    A rotten egg odor can be from dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas or certain bacteria. If the smell only comes when you turn on the hot tap at the sink, it is likely from a part in your heater. 
    A detergent odor and foaming action could be seepage from septic tanks into your well. 
    A gasoline or oil smell indicates fuel oil or gasoline likely seeping from a tank into the supply.
    Methane gas or musty/earthy smell from decaying organic matter in the source. 
    Chlorine smell from excessive chlorination.
    Note: Many serious problems (bacteria, heavy metals, nitrates, radon, and many chemicals) can only be found by laboratory testing of the h2o.

    Click here for drinking water test kits.

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