By Tom Ribe
Some 43 million Americans rely on domestic water wells for drinking water, about 15 percent of the population. A long term study by the US Geologic Survey recently found contaminants in many wells. The study points to a need for everyone with water wells to test and filter their water, especially if wells are located near agricultural areas, mines, or homes with septic systems.
US Geologic Survey scientists tested water in 2100 private wells in 48 states from about half the nation's principal aquifers, or underground reservoirs of water. The study found that 23% of those wells had one or more contaminant above levels considered safe for human health by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Most of the contaminants found in groundwater wells were chemicals that come from the breakdown of rock underground. These include radon, arsenic, nitrates (probably from farm fertilizers), and flouride. Radioactive elements like radon, strontium, and uranium were found in less than 10% of wells, especially in areas where uranium exists underground.
Bacteria were found in about a third of the wells sampled including E-coli, a bacteria that indicates that human or animal sewage is probably mixing into the underground water. Septic systems can leach bacteria into well water as can large factory farms like dairies, hog raising farms, egg farms, and feedlots which all produce huge quantities of manure. To date the government has weak regulations for factory farm waste.
"The quality and safety of water from domestic wells are not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act or, in many cases, by state laws. Rather, individual homeowners are responsible for maintaining their domestic well systems and for any routine monitoring," said Leslie A. DeSimone of the National Ground Water Association.
Even the Safe Drinking Water Act, a law dating from the 1970s, does not regulate thousands of chemicals found in drinking water today. The USGS used the list of regulated chemicals from that law as a basis for this study so it may not have detected many possibly toxic chemicals.
If you own a private well, or if you are on a community well with your neighbors, it's worth having your water tested by a reputable lab to see what sorts of contaminants are in it. Since some contaminants can evaporate from hot water in your shower, you may want to filter the water coming into your home from the well so that washing water, drinking water and cooking supplies are all purified.
Whole house water purification systems can be installed on the pipes entering your house. Click the link below to learn about these sorts of systems and water testing.
To find out about top quality home water filters and to have your water tested, follow the links at [http://pure-safe-clean-water.com/]
Tom Ribe writes and science, health and the environment from his home with a well in New Mexico.