Someone Poisoned the Water Hole!
Thanks to Old Man Winter, there won’t be a shortage of spring run-off this year. In the coming weeks temperatures will begin to rise (I promise—don’t lose hope!) and the water will begin to run. Spring is a welcome and rejuvenating reminder that long, sunny days and green grass are headed our way soon. Another, often less glamorous, side effect of warm weather and running water is the impact rising water tables can have on our well water.
A flood event can contain high volumes of contaminants which are potentially left behind in our water systems once the water levels return to normal. The National Groundwater Association recommends well owners should test water annually and complete an additional test after a flood event.
According to MSU Extension, there are other indicators, besides flooding, for water testing:
- A noticeable change in water quality
- Water users suffer from an illness
- Maintenance work is done on the well
- A pregnant woman, a woman anticipating pregnancy, or an infant under six months old becomes a water user
What Do I Test For?
Good question. Testing your water for every possible contaminant under the sun is expensive and likely unnecessary. Depending on the location and land use practices around your well, you can narrow down the testing field.
Generally speaking, water should first be tested for bacteria, or Coliforms, since it is linked directly to illness and human health risks. Secondarily, some may choose to test for ‘Total Dissolved Solids’. This type of contaminant doesn’t pose health issues, but in some instances, you may want to test for it as well. The following table lists a series of questions about land use and how those activities may impact your well:
Learn more about testing your well water through MSU Extension’s 'Well Educated' program.
I Tested My Water. Now What?
Most labs will follow up with you directly regarding the results of your water quality testing. Depending on your test results, there may be specific protocols needed to remove any unwanted contaminants from your drinking water source.
This worksheet may also provide some more insight into interpreting your test results.
Testing our drinking water is sometimes an out-of-sight-out-of-mind topic. It’s likely the water quality testing was done when your water well was first drilled, but it’s not something that’s generally on the forefront of our minds. Especially during the spring when there are cows to calve, seed to plant and irrigation to be done. These tips will help you narrow down what you should be testing for and help you find the right resources to get the job done.
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