According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), there are more than 15 million homes in the U.S. where well water is the primary water source. If you own a well, it’s up to you to ensure your family’s water is safe to drink. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to protect your water supply, including some tips from Oregon State University on shocking a new or unused system.
Inspect Your Well Every Year
Make sure the well casing is not damaged, which would allow pollutants into the well. To check your casing, push on it a bit, look for cracks and holes, and listen for running water. Additionally, test your tanks and fix any leaks.
A watertight cap and vented screen can help let in air while minimizing contaminants. To prevent backflow, install check valves on your inside and outside faucets.
Test Your Water Every Year
Find a local professional to test your water or send a sample off to a laboratory. They’ll look for volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), water hardness (mineral buildup) as well as other chemicals and contaminants. If they find anything, it’s your chance to fix the problem before a human an animal experiences an issue.
Keep Contaminants Away from Your Well
It’s recommended that you keep pesticides, fuel tanks, weed killer and your septic tank at least 100 feet from your well. Manure and fertilizer storage should be at least 250 feet away.
Consider a New Well Every 20 Years
A good well will last several decades. Maybe longer, depending on where you live. But once a well is dried up, be sure to close and fill it to prevent contaminating your new well.
You May Need to Shock Your Well
If you have a new well or one that has recently been brought back into service, it can be necessary to shock it. Using ordinary liquid laundry bleach and some time-tested methods can help make your well safe for drinking. Oregon State University Extension Service has posted step-by-step instructions and a measurement guide on shock chlorination. You’ll find that document here. If you’re unsure about how to shock a well safely, be sure to consult a professional.
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