How often should I have my well water inspected? It is a question any reasonable well owner should ask themself at least once. Fortunately, the answer to that question is quite simple: The Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend testing a well’s drinking water once every year.
The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality further advises testing well water under the following circumstances:
- Well is newly installed
- Well has been exposed to flooding
- Well is suspected of contamination
- Well is part of a newly purchased property
- Well has not been used for a significant period of time
Assuming that none of those circumstances are relevant, you are safe to have your well water inspected annually. However, it is not necessary to test for every type of contamination every 12 months. Only total and fecal coliform bacteria require annual testing. Testing for nitrates, nitrites and heavy metals (such as lead and copper) can be conducted every two years. Testing for pesticides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be conducted every five years (unless you suspect your well water may recently have been exposed to either of those contaminants).
Which Contaminants Does Well Water Inspection Test for?
We just mentioned the many different types of contaminants well water inspection reveals the presence of. Let’s explain each in further detail so you can understand why you don’t want to consume them!
- Total coliform bacteria – These are bacteria that are normally found in the soil. They occur more frequently in water that has been polluted by human or animal waste. Total coliform bacteria are mostly harmless, although a high count could indicate that well water is at risk of becoming no longer safe to drink.
- Fecal coliform bacteria – Fecal coliform bacteria originate in the bowels and feces of rodents and other warm-blooded animals. The best-known fecal coliform bacterium is coli, which can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and other illnesses. It is responsible for causing 265,000 illnesses and about 100 deaths every year in the United States.
- Nitrates – Nitrates are NO3 They occur naturally in the environment, and they are commonly used as food preservatives. High concentrations of nitrates in drinking water can cause birth defects, as well as diseases such as infant methemoglobinemia, colon cancer and thyroiditis.
- Nitrites – Nitrites are NO2 Despite their different chemical properties, consuming nitrates or nitrites poses heightened risks of contracting the same diseases.
- Heavy metals – Lead poisoning is especially harmful to children, as it can irreversibly interrupt normal brain development. High levels of exposure to lead can cause permanent damage to anyone’s kidneys and nervous system, and may ultimately lead to seizures and death. Copper poisoning is far less common, although ingesting high concentrations of the metal may cause liver failure and death.
- Pesticides – Consuming abnormal amounts of pesticides can cause a wide range of illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers of the breast, thyroid, ovaries, prostate, lung and liver.
- VOCs – By definition, VOCs are compounds that have low water solubility and high vapor pressure. Many VOCs originated as industrial solvents or as fuel components, but they commonly come from paint, pesticide, aerosol sprays and cleaning agents as well. Prolonged exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, damage to the central nervous system, and certain types of cancer.
Detecting any of these substances in a well’s water doesn’t necessarily mean the well is permanently out of commission. A well technician is qualified to advise the best course of action for mitigating the presence of any type of contaminants. For example, chlorine treatment and UV light filtration are both effective solutions for E. coli.
Whether you would like your well water regularly tested or need a solution for well water contamination, you can count on Geo-Tech of Minnesota. Please contact us today for professional well installation, maintenance, repair or abandonment in Western Minnesota or Eastern North Dakota.