Unlike municipal water supplies, which are monitored by State & Federal agencies, private wells must be monitored by the homeowner. Private wells pump groundwater into a storage tank for domestic use. Groundwater can become contaminated in many ways and should be regularly tested.
Where Does the Water Come From?
Rain and snow that seeps into the earth is called groundwater. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s fresh water supply is groundwater that lies below the earth’s surface. The top portion of the groundwater, called the water table, can be anywhere from one to one thousand feet from the surface.
How Do Well Systems Work?
The functional components of a well system are the well pump, the storage tank, and the pressure switches. The well pump pumps the ground water up and into the storage tank. As the storage tank fills, it compresses the air in the tank, creating the pressure that moves the water into your home. The pressure switches are set to signal the well pump when to pump water into the tank and when to stop. As you use water, the level in the tank decreases, lowering the pressure. When the pressure drops to 20psi, the switch activates the pump, filling the tank and raising the pressure back to 40psi.
Common Well Water Contaminants
Physical contaminants of well water include sediment, clays and suspended matter. Collectively, the suspended solids and matter in the water are referred to as turbidity. Turbidity propagates bacteria and viruses, and can create harmful byproducts from chlorination. Chemical contaminants include all dissolved minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, nitrates, lead, arsenic, selenium, mercury, decaying organics, hydrogen sulfide, and others.
Extended Water Profile
For private well systems, we offer laboratory analysis of the water to ensure potability. In the extended water profile we test for: coliform bacteria and E Coli, chlorine, color, odor, iron, manganese, sodium chloride, hardness, nitrate-nitrate nitrogen, PH, sulfate, and turbidity.
Lead In Water
Lead is a metal formerly used in soldering joints in plumbing systems. It is now prohibited, but many older houses still have lead in their plumbing systems. An excess amount of lead in the water has been shown to have long-term detrimental effects on the brain, kidneys, and nervous system.
In 1992, as a result of legislation written in Congress, the EPA established a new standard for lead and copper. It is intended to help communities reduce their exposure to lead and copper from all sources, including air, lead-based paint, soil, and dust. Lead paint is the main source of lead poisoning, but lead contamination from water may comprise 10 to 20 percent of a person’s total exposure.
Signs that Lead May Be Present in Your Water
Although water supplied from your water treatment plant may be free from lead, contamination from your piping system can cause lead to dissolve, or leach, into your water supply if:
- You have lead service line connecting your home to the street’s water main;
- Your home has lead water supply pipes; You have lead containing soldered joints in your copper supply pipes (installed from 1983-1986);
- You have plumbing fixtures containing lead.
- In rare cases, some lead leaching may take place from piping in the street if is a low flow area, i.e., dead end streets
Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes in some communities have lead levels above the EPA standard of fifteen parts per billion (ppb), or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mgL).
Health Effects of Lead
Lead builds up in the body over many years and is known to cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys. The greatest risk is to young children and pregnant women. A child at play often comes into contact with sources of lead contamination, like dirt and dust, so it is important to wash their hands and toys often. Amounts of lead that won’t harm adults can slow down the normal mental and physical development of growing bodies.
Testing for Lead in Water
There are two standard tests to determine the concentration of lead and other metals in the water supply: the IMS (Immediate Metal Sample), and the NMS (Normal Metal Sample).
The IMS is taken to determine the maximum concentration of metals present in the water, as a result of the water being undisturbed for a minimum of 6 hours.
The NMS is taken to determine the base water quality. The NMS procedure is also taken as a follow up for a high IMS result.
If your lead result is above the acceptable level, you may need to test further, check the pH, filter the water, or use an acid neutralizer.