Well water testing key to protecting health
For household water well owners who find water testing confusing or difficult, help is available, said the National Ground Water
Association, which urges well owners to test their water to protect their health. The Association’s website, WellOwner.org, is designed to help simplify the process of water testing by guiding well owners in
What to test for;
How to get a water test;
How to interpret water test results; and
What to do if a health risk is discovered.
Significant barriers to well owners testing their water are concerns about the difficulty, inconvenience and cost of water testing,
said NGWA based on its research of published studies and interviews with well owner education and testing programs.
Following are some common questions and answers to well owners testing their water:
"Why do I need to test?"
Testing is important because some substances that present health risks in water are tasteless, odorless and invisible. Two
examples are radon, a gas byproduct of radium decay, and arsenic, a poisonous element found in certain types of rock as well as
in certain manmade products. Another example of an imperceptible threat is nitrate, which is often found in fertilizer and a
byproduct of animal and human waste.
"I feel fine."
Believing that there is no health risk because you feel fine can be misleading and risky. Again using arsenic and radon as
examples, the health threat posed by these tend to occur over a period of years, and dramatic symptoms may not be evident until
much of the damage has been done. Well owners also can have a false sense of security involving bacteria. The presence of
bacteria in water should be taken seriously, but, without a test, a well owner might not know that the water has bacteria in it.
Even the presence of certain harmless bacteria such as coliform can be alarming because it means the well also may be
susceptible to harmful, pathogenic bacteria that could cause serious illness or even death.
"I don't know what to test for."
WellOwner.org provides simple guidance on how to approach water testing. It also links to contact information for every county
health department in the United States so that well owners can check with their counties about any groundwater contamination
of local concern.
"I don't know how to get my water tested."
The water testing page on WellOwner.org links to state websites where well owners can find certified drinking water testing labs.
"I got my water tested and didn't understand the results."
WellOwner.org provides access to a water test interpretation tool that allows well owners to plug in their lab results to obtain a
simple interpretation. Well owners can use the test results and interpretation to get the professional guidance or service they
need to address water quality problems.
WellOwner.org also contains information on well maintenance, groundwater protection and water treatment. Other resources
related to water testing can be found at the Private Well Class website operated by the University of Illinois and the Water
Systems Council website.
NGWA, the leading worldwide advocate for professionals teaming to provide, protect, manage and remediate groundwater,
conveniently and promptly delivers an extensive range of resources contributing to member success through relationships,
leading edge and emerging practices, and credible new ideas and solutions.