One of the number one reasons people test their well water is a change in the color, taste, or odor (CTO) of water. And while a change in CTO is a great prompt to see what’s going on with your water quality, here are some other reasons to test.
- It’s Time! Water testing is generally recommended at least once a year for bacteria, like coliforms and E. coli, and nitrates. Many jurisdictions will suggest water testing in Spring and again in Fall, mainly because water quality can change with changing weather.
- The wellhead has been opened. Maybe you needed to have the pump serviced, or maybe the water table in your area has dropped due to drought and you’ve had to deepen your well. Anytime the wellhead is opened, the well should be disinfected and the water tested.
- Reports in the news. Information concerning ground water quality is making the news more often than ever. Just consider recent reports about corrosive water and lead, groundwater contamination by PFOAs, or the impact of CAFOs on local water quality. Doesn’t that make you want to know what’s in your water?
- Severe weather. Heavy rains can lead to flooding, which can lead to contaminated surface waters seeping into your well.
- A leaky septic system. If your septic system has recently malfunctioned or if you’re seeing or smelling sewage near your septic tank, test your water for coliforms and/or E. coli and get your septic system serviced.
- Frequent gastrointestinal illness (GI). Waterborne illness often involves diarrhea and vomiting. If family members or guests are experiencing unexplained sickness, it may be a sign that your water is contaminated.
- New family members. If someone in the household is expecting a baby, or if you are considering having your aging parents move in with you, it will be important to make sure your water supply is safe. Other individuals particularly vulnerable to waterborne illnesses include young children and anyone with a compromised immune system, such as someone receiving chemotherapy.
- Recent move into a house on well water. Real estate transactions drive water testing, especially where it’s necessary for mortgage approval. Unfortunately, to close the deal, some sellers will simply pour bleach down the well to achieve a “clean” water test. As the buyer, you’ll want to know that the water supply is safe, so it’s a good idea to test again once you’re settled in.
- Checking water filtration system effectiveness. At the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own water quality. That means ongoing checks, even if you have a home water filtration system in place.
If you need any help understanding your water tests (they can be confusing) or want to understand what can be done to improve your water quality, talk to a water treatment specialist or your local public health department.