A poorly maintained water well system can lead to poor water quality, so household water well owners should inform themselves of good water well maintenance practices, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) said today.

"Neglecting a water well system's maintenance can have a direct impact on one's health, so it's important to stay on top of a water well system's maintenance," said Cliff Treyens, NGWA's public awareness director.

A particular concern with poorly maintained well systems is the potential for bacteria to enter the well. This can happen if any of the well system's sanitary seals, such as the well cap, are deteriorated, damaged or loose. The presence of bacteria in one's well water could result in gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea, stomach upset, or vomiting. Some bacteria such as E. coli can cause severe illness or even be lethal.

To protect water quality, NGWA recommends periodic water well maintenance inspections. Such inspections also can help ensure that the well system is operating properly and prolong the useful life of the well.

A qualified water well system professional can determine whether you need an inspection. Well inspections should only be done by a licensed water well system professional. For information on finding a licensed contractor, individuals can visit www.WellOwner.org, and click on "Finding a Contractor/Licensing.


Advertisement

"

Steps in a routine water well system inspection include:

* A visual inspection of the "well head"--the part of the well system above the surface of the ground over the well consisting of the well casing (the vertical pipe protruding from the ground) and the well cap (the cap on top of the well casing)

* A visual inspection of the condition of the system's components such as any aboveground pumping equipment, and other aboveground system wiring and parts such as connections, joint seals, gauges, pressure relief valves, or a water meter if there is one

* Physical inspection of the system's components including testing the pump, checking the valves, and conducting electrical testing

* Visual inspection of other equipment including pressure tanks, booster pumps, liquid level control devices, the control box and connections, water heaters, water softeners and conditioners, and filtration equipment

* Provision by the professional of a written well inspection report that details the inspection findings and includes any relevant photos or video records.

Indicators that well maintenance might be needed are cloudy water, a drop in the amount of water the pump can supply to the system, taste or odor problems, or a positive water test for bacteria. These signs could mean the well system needs to be cleaned.

Shock chlorination is not well cleaning. Proper well chlorination disinfects a well system by killing bacteria but is only effective in killing the bacteria it can reach. Disinfection does not address non-bacteria related well cleaning issues.

Well cleaning involves removal of debris from the well, cleaning the well system components, and flushing the geologic formation surrounding the well along with disinfection.

To learn more about water well system maintenance, visit wellowner.org.

NGWA, a nonprofit organization composed of U.S. and international groundwater professionals is dedicated to advancing groundwater knowledge. NGWA's vision is to be the leading groundwater association that advocates the responsible development, management, and use of water.