Three Common Contaminants That Can Show Up In Your Well Water

When you're a homeowner with a private well, you have an independent water supply that's not controlled by the municipality, but you also have the responsibilities that come with that perk. You have to keep the well pump in order, keep the area around the well free of any possible sources of contaminants, test the well water regularly for problems, and treat any problems that do surface. Here are three contaminants that commonly occur in well water.

1. Chemicals

Whether they're agricultural chemicals that soaked through the ground into your well reservoir or the weed-killing chemicals used to spray roadsides to keep them from becoming overgrown, chemicals have no place in your drinking water. These contaminants are most likely to show up where and when the water table is high (meaning there's less topsoil between the surface and the groundwater to filter the chemicals out) and where the soil is well-drained and composed of large particles. Smaller particles make water drain more slowly but also are better at filtering out contaminants before they can reach your water supply. Fortunately, you can easily filter out chemicals with a carbon-based filter either placed on the main line to filter your whole water supply or placed at faucets as point-of-use treatment.

2. Coliform bacteria

Testing your water for bacteria yearly is crucial. The total coliforms that the test checks for isn't the number of "bad" bacteria present; instead, it's a sort of harbinger that indicates whether bad bacteria are likely to be present. Not all coliforms are a threat to your health, but the ones that are (such as fecal coliforms) generally exist in proportion to the "total coliforms," meaning that testing for total coliforms can let you know whether you need to treat for bacteria to keep yourself safe or not. There are several purification treatments you can use against bacteria, such as distillation, reverse osmosis, and UV treatment.

3. Minerals

Not all minerals are dangerous; in fact, many of the more obvious ones, such as the calcium and magnesium that cause "hard water," are relatively harmless. On the other hand, some minerals can be deadly (arsenic, for example) and others, such as salt, can cause or exacerbate health problems in some people. This is why it's important to be aware of the minerals present in your water. Fortunately, the minerals in your water are unlikely to change much between one year and the next. So you probably won't have a lot of arsenic in your water suddenly if there was none there last year.

These three types of contaminants, although they're not always harmful, can cause or indicate severe health risks in your water. So be sure you get your water tested annually and have these three categories well covered in your panel of tests so you'll know if your water requires purification treatments. To learn about your water purification options, contact a company like Water-Pro.