By John Voket
The recent National Groundwater Awareness Week reminds all homeowners about protecting and preserving the groundwater you tap for drinking, bathing, cooking, and other frequent household uses.
According to the U.S. EPA’s most recent U.S. Census American Housing Survey – more than 13 million households rely on private wells for drinking water in the United States. And the Groundwater Foundation estimates over half of the U.S. population depends on groundwater for drinking.
So the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), the point agency promoting GWAW encourages everyone to become official “groundwater protectors” by taking steps to conserve and protect the resource. The EPA says homeowners could benefit from testing private wells annually for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels.
If homeowners suspect the presence of other contaminants, they should also test for those, or contact their local health department to find out what substances may be common in your area’s groundwater.
Homeowners may even want to test MORE frequently if small children or elderly adults live in the house – or if someone in the house is pregnant or nursing. These segments of the population are often more vulnerable to pollutants than others.
Homeowners should also test their private well immediately if:
– There are known problems with groundwater or drinking water in your area
– Conditions near your well have changed significantly (i.e. flooding, land disturbances, and new construction or industrial activity)
– You replace or repair any part of your well system
– You notice a change in your water quality (i.e. odor, color, taste)
In addition, well owners should also determine if their groundwater is under direct influence from surface water. Ground water under the direct influence of surface water is susceptible to contamination from pesticides and fertilizers, road salt, toxic substances from mining sites and used motor oil, untreated waste from septic tanks and toxic chemicals from underground storage tanks and leaky landfills.
Learn more at ngwa.org and groundwater.org