• Protecting Your Ground Water Supply When Building, Modifying Or Closing A Well
  • Hire a certified well driller for any new well construction or modification.

  • Slope well area so surface runoff drains away. When closing a well:

  • Do not cut off the well casing below the land surface.

  • Hire a certified well contractor to fill or seal the well.

  • Preventing Problems

  • Install a locking well cap or sanitary seal to prevent unauthorized use of, or entry into, the well.

  • Do not mix or use pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, degreasers, fuels, and other pollutants near the well.

  • Never dispose of wastes in dry wells or in abandoned wells.

  • Pump and inspect septic systems as often as recommended by your local health department.

  • Never dispose of hazardous materials in a septic system.

  • Take care in working or mowing around your well.

  • Maintaining Your Well

  • Each month check visible parts of your system for problems such as:

  • Cracking or corrosion,

  • Broken or missing well cap,

  • Settling and cracking of surface seals.

  • Have the well tested once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants.

  • Keep accurate records in a safe place, including:

  • Construction contract or report.

  • Maintenance records, such as disinfection or sediment removal - Any use of chemicals in the well.

  • Water testing results.

  • After A Flood - Concerns And Advisories

  • Stay away from the well pump while flooded to avoid electric shock

  • Do not drink or wash from the flooded well to avoid becoming sick

  • Get assistance from a well or pump contractor to clean and turn on the pump

  • After the pump is turned back on, pump the well until the water runs clear to rid the well of flood water

  • If the water does not run clear, get advice from the county or State health department or extension service

For additional information go to the EPA web site at www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/whatdo.htm.

  • 1. How Can I Spot Potential Problems?

The potential for pollution entering your well is affected by its placement and construction - how close is your well to potential sources of pollution? Local agricultural and industrial activities, your area's geology and climate also matter. Review the sections that include checklists to help you find potential problems with your well. Take time to review the Protecting Your Ground Water Supply section. Because ground water contamination is usually localized, the best way to identify potential contaminants is to consult a local expert. For example, talk with a geologist at a local college or someone from a nearby public water system. They'll know about conditions in your area. (See section 5. Talk With Local Experts.

  • 2. Have Your Well Water Tested

Test your water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, test for these also. Chemical tests can be expensive. Limit them to possible problems specific to your situation. Again, local experts can tell you about possible impurities in your area.

Often county health departments do tests for bacteria and nitrates. For other substances, health departments, environmental offices, or county governments should have a list of State certified laboratories. Your State Laboratory Certification Officer can also provide one. Call EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline, (800) 4264791 for the name and phone number of your State's certification officer.

Before taking a sample, contact the lab that will perform your tests. Ask for instructions and sampling bottles. Follow the instructions carefully so you will get correct results. The first step is getting a good water sample. It is also important to follow advice about storing the samples. Ask how soon they must be taken to the lab for testing. These instructions can be very different for each substance being tested.

Remember to test your water after replacing or repairing any part of the well system (piping, pump, or the well itself.) Also test if you notice a change in your water's look, taste, or smell. The table Figure 192 will help you spot problems. The last five problems listed are not an immediate health concern, but they can make your water taste bad, may indicate problems, and could affect your system long term.

Figure 192: Reasons to Test Your Water

Conditions or Nearby Activities

Test For

Recurring gastro-intestinal illness

Coliform Bacteria

Household plumbing contains lead

pH, lead, copper

Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich


Corrosion of pipes, plumbing

Corrosion, pH, lead

Nearby areas of intensive agriculture

Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria

Coal or other mining operations nearby

Metals, pH, corrosion

Gas drilling operations nearby

Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium

Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station, or dry- cleaning operation nearby

Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals

Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks

Volatile organic compounds

Objectionable taste or smell

Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals

Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry

Iron, copper, manganese

Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby

Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium

Scaly residues, soaps don't lather


Rapid wear of water treatment equipment

pH, corrosion

Water softener needed to treat hardness

Manganese, iron

Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored

Color, detergents

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