Updated for 2024: A Guide to Good Well Water Quality

A healthy well is a wonderful asset! A family supplied by a private well has an excellent resource for providing fresh, clean water all year round. Private wells require some maintenance but there’s no reliance on city water systems, no bi-monthly bills and no disinfectants added to the pure water Nature provides. 

On the other hand, there’s no one regulating the quality of your water except you, the owner. To help you with this task, the Environmental Protection Agency offers advice in the form of guidelines on the actions you should take to protect your water quality. That list is available here

Among other recommendations from the EPA, they suggest annual testing of water quality plus additional testing when environmental conditions could result in contamination. For example, floods, lots of snowmelt, nearby construction, septic tank repair, and so on. If someone in your household is pregnant, if a baby arrives or if there are elderly residents, testing should happen more often or if illnesses occur. 

In addition, on January 26, 2024, the EPA released an updated report titled Potential Well Water Contaminants and Their Impacts that may provide new insight for you on maintaining good well quality. 

Increased Focus on PFAS for 2024

This year, there is increased focus and action on reducing PFAS in groundwater and wells. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of more than 9,000 chemicals used for the manufacture of clothing, non-stick cookware, food packaging, wires, cables, cosmetics, cleaning products and much more. While they began being used in 1946, awareness of the health problems they can cause has been increasing each year. 

Widespread PFAS contamination of our groundwater has been associated with cancer, kidney disease, poor fertility, damage to the immune system, preeclampsia and pregnancy-related hypertension, liver disease, high cholesterol and Parkinson’s disease. 

A few of the most dangerous PFAS stopped being manufactured in 2002 but new chemicals took their places. There are some signs that these new PFAS-type chemicals could be as dangerous or more dangerous than old ones. While our understanding of these chemicals grows, you should be testing your well for the presence of PFAS.

Primary sources of PFAS in groundwater are fire training sites, industrial sites, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. In 2023, the EPA recommended new, lower limits for six PFAS but the recommendations have not yet been finalized and besides, there are thousands more PFAS in use. Monitor your well for PFAS and if you find these substances in your water, install a granular activated carbon filter or reverse osmosis system to remove them.

How to Observe Protect Your Groundwater Day!

This year, September 5, 2024, is Protect Your Groundwater Day! This should be a reminder to well owners to test their water and inspect their property for any potential source of contaminants.

Included in the inspection list should be:

  • Your well cap is in good repair 
  • Well cap is 12 to 18 inches above the level of the ground
  • No plants are growing around or above the wellhead
  • Gas, oil and solvents are properly and safely stored far from the well
  • A professional water test shows that the water quality is excellent
  • Regular maintenance is done on your own septic system

You should also take action to protect the zone around your well:

  • Stay aware of what is happening near your property, such as new agricultural or industrial activities starting up, or new house or road construction nearby
  • Make sure everyone in the household knows never to dispose of chemicals, oils, solvents, or cleaners down the drains or on the ground anywhere near the well (i.e., more than 50 feet away)
  • Never dispose of pharmaceutical products down the toilet or drains

Expert, Professional Well Water Testing All Year Round!

As you maintain the purity and health of your well, anytime you need water testing, choose ETR Labs for a fast, accurate test. Our Premium Water Test will check for 113 contaminants you don’t want in your water! Click on the link to order!