Why Well Water Quality Can Change Almost Overnight

If you rely on well water, it doesn’t pay to get too confident about the quality of your water. Even those individuals who pay close attention to industry recommendations and test their water every year have no guarantee of well water quality until the next year’s test rolls around. That’s because there are certain events that could take place in your neighborhood or town and change the quality of your well water almost overnight. 

While it’s advisable to schedule a basic water test at least once a year, many people know to re-test their water if it has a different smell, taste, color or other new characteristic. The external events on our list below should also alert a well owner to the need to get another test done on their well water. These events are factors that can change the quality of your well water from desirable to undesirable almost in the blink of an eye. 

Be Alert to These External Events

Keep your eyes and ears open for any of these occurrences in your area. Plan to get a new water test as soon as you see them occurring. 

  1. Work on septic tanks: Has there been work on a septic tank on your property or a property nearby? If so, you would be wise to get a basic test of your water quality to ensure there has been no contamination. 
  2. Floods, severe rain, tornadoes, hurricanes or snowmelt: All these events can drive surface water into your well. Even if your well cap is in good condition, the severity of some of these events can overwhelm your well’s protections. Surface water is always capable of carrying bacteria, fungi, landscaping or road paving chemicals, salt, animal waste or other contaminants into your well water. 
  3. Landscaping work: If there’s going to be landscaping work on your property, it’s very wise to first make a close inspection of your wellhead. The slope of the land in the area should direct water away from the well. Ensure the landscaping does not change this slope. Any work in the area should not damage or dislodge the well cap or disturb its seal. If there has been landscaping on a property nearby, ensure that the slope of land from that property to yours is not directing pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers toward your well.  
  4. Mining or oil/gas drilling: Have you authorized drilling for minerals, oil or gas on your property? This underground work can drive oil or gas into the aquifer feeding your well. One study of the effects of fracking found that more than half of the country’s hydraulically fracked wells are located within 2 to 3 kilometers of a drinking water well. That’s close enough for the contaminants from the fracking to enter nearby water wells. 
  5. More homes are built quickly, straining the water table: If these homes are supplied by private wells, the aquifer may be strained beyond its ability to replenish itself. This can affect the quality of water in your well.  
  6. Drought: A long dry spell causes the water level in your well to drop. This can cause water quality to deteriorate. 
  7. The well needs repair: A problem with the casing, pump, pump screen or other part of the structure can reduce the quality of water and introduce contaminants. 
  8. Lightning strike: If your well suffers a direct lightning hit, the pump is likely to fail. It may not fail right away, however; it may take a few days. A lightning strike can also damage filtration or water-softening systems and even create a hole in a steel casing. 
  9. Earthquake (may be far away): Sediment loosened by an earthquake can seep into water wells and cause a deterioration of water quality. It’s possible for nitrates and arsenic compounds to leach into the water from these sediments. Water may be cloudy or discolored for a while. Groundwater levels may fluctuate for days, months or even longer after a nearby earthquake. In the event of a major earthquake, effects may be felt thousands of miles away. 

For Safety, Stay Tuned!

If you rely on a private well for your water, it’s smart to stay tuned to regional or neighborhood news about any of these events. When in doubt, test your well water to ensure your quality is not impacted. 

Fixing any adverse effects of these events necessitates knowing what is happening with your well water quality. That means you need a prompt water test to give you accurate results. Our most popular water tests offer testing for 53, 113 or 249 substances that can affect your water quality. Don’t know which one to choose? Call us at (800) 344-9977 now.