National Ground Water Awareness Week
March 6-12, 2016 is National Ground Water Awareness Week. These days it seems that everyday is “National Something Week or Day.” Some may just be for fun, like National Ice Cream Day (7/17/16), but recognizing the importance of ground water is not frivilous or just for fun. Clean, safe water is essential to life, and according to the Connecticut Department of Health (CT DPH), there are 322,578 private wells in Connecticut and 822,575 people are served by these wells. It’s important to be sure the water is safe to drink (potable) and the well equipment is functioning properly.
Our home inspection company, Schaefer Inspection Service, provides testing of drinking water for our clients with wells. However, after the purchase of a home the majority of homeowners with wells may never test their water quality again. Health officials typically recommend testing your well water on an annual basis. It’s not expensive and is easy to have the water quality analyzed. In some cases, homeowners or buyers with wells can find a local water analysis laboratory in their area who will provide collection bottles and instructions. If DYI isn’t your thing you can hire a professional like Schaefer Inspection Service to do this for you. There are various types of water testing to be done, and Schaefer can help guide you to choose the type of analysis you need. At the very least, you want to know if the water is contaminated by bacteria, and therefore unsafe for drinking until treatment. In some areas testing for ground minerals, hardness, chemicals, volatile organic compounds and pesticides may be important. This will help to determine if water-conditioning treatment may be needed.
Finding Your Well
The ease of finding the well to inspect the equipment may depend on when it was installed. In most areas, well location records are reliable from 1970 forward. Prior to that it may be more difficult to find documentation, particularly if the well was drilled before the mid-1950s. For many older homes, there are no records and many of the well heads are burried in the ground and are not visible. The DPH provides a document that can help determine a well location: http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/environmental_health/pdf/2014-27_well_completion_reports-rev_061214.pdf.
If your well cannot be found above ground, contact a well contractor to maintain your well equipment to prevent contamination.
Wells with exposed well heads:
- If possible, the ground around the well head should slope away from the well head.
- Keep debris and vegetation away from the well head.
- Some of the older common well caps are not sealed tight around the well pipe. Insects, rodents and contaminated surface water have been known to gain entrance into the well, causing contamination. Replacing the older common well caps with a sanitary well cap should be considered (see photos).
- If you have conditioning equipment, make sure it is properly maintained according to the manufacturer and installer
Older Common Well Cap Sanitary Well Cap
There is much more information you can find on the CT DPH website, and we encourage you to become as well educated about your well as possible.