Getting a water test done and determining what contaminants (if any) are present in your well water is easy. Determining why those contaminants are there is not always so easy. In some cases, it becomes a detective job, ruling out some possibilities while deciding to investigate others.
Just like in medicine, the right tests can help develop the right diagnosis for a well in trouble. Looking into the history of the well and the property can also provide clues.
It’s likely that data exists on the history of the well and property but it may take some digging to find the information you need. Here are some of the types of records that can help you determine the cause of well water problems on your property.
1. Original well records:
It may help to know how deep the well was drilled, when it was built, what kind of pump was installed and so on. Most states require well drilling companies to file this information with the state. Local health departments may also have a copy of this information. It may be important to know if the well’s casing goes deep enough into the aquifer to prevent pollutants from entering the well. If you can get information on the original pump installation, note the well depth, the type of pump installed, the level where water was found and the initial yield of the well.
2. Repair records:
Every well owner should keep records of repairs made to the well. A previous owner should turn these records over to new buyers. A pump that has reached the end of its useful life may need replacement.
3. Backfill on your property:
In some locations, backfill material must be brought in from some other area. If that site was contaminated, your backfill material may transport that contamination to your property. You may have to research the source of backfill material with the original construction company or developer.
4. Previous uses of your property:
When searching for the source of contaminants, you may also have to look into the history of your land. Before your home was built, what was the land used for? Many non-residential uses require remediation before housing can be built on that land. If this remediation was not done properly or thoroughly, you and your family could be exposed to chemicals left over from that use. County or town zoning or planning boards may be a source of information for your property.
- If it was used for training firefighters, the land may be contaminated with PFAS, a chemical used in fire retardant foam. This chemical is known for being extremely long lasting.
- Farm use could mean that the land has been exposed to pesticides, herbicides or animal fecal matter.
- Previous use as an airport may expose the land to flame retardant chemicals as well as aviation fuel or chemicals used as de-icers.
- If the land was previously the site of an industrial operation, the contaminants left behind will depend on the type of business that was operating. The chemical residues left behind could include petroleum products or chromated copper arsenate or creosote used in treating wood.
- Mining operations nearby could have contaminated the property with arsenic, cadmium, copper or zinc.
- Battery manufacturers can leave behind lead and other heavy metals.
You have to start with knowing what contaminants you’re dealing with and what quantities are reaching your water supply. That means water tests.
ETR Labs performs thousands of tests each month and has been doing so for decades. We have helped thousands of homeowners dig into their test results to diagnose the source of water quality problems and come up with a solution. We also offer well inspections in our local area which broadens our experience even more.
When you have a problem, we’ll help you by recommending the right test or tests and then when the results are in, we’ll educate you on what those tests mean. Call us at (800) 344-9977.