Studies have shown that nearly one-quarter of private wells are contaminated, so it's important to have your well water tested regularly. Even though your water comes from the groundwater, there are many ways that contaminants can enter your water supply and make you sick. Here are three sources of well water contamination.
If you have a septic tank, bacteria from your waste could contaminate your well water. In fact, 1% of America's aquifers have been contaminated by septic tanks. This contamination can occur if your septic system has failed, allowing untreated sewage to seep out into the soil. To avoid this, be sure to have your tank inspected and serviced regularly.
It can also occur if your septic tank was installed improperly. For example, if your septic leach field is placed badly, the partially-treated wastewater that leaves your tank could seep into your well. A plumber can inspect your septic tank and let you know if it's been installed in a safe location.
Lawn care chemicals
Fertilizers and pesticides can help keep your lawn looking its best, but if these chemicals are used or stored improperly, they could make their way into your well water. Before you apply any products to your lawn, have the soil tested to find out if the products are actually necessary; not all lawns require fertilization.
If you need to use lawn care products, don't use them anywhere near your well. Unused chemicals should be stored in an area where they can't make their way into the groundwater.
Your dog or cat's waste is another potential source of well water contamination. If your pet's waste is left in your yard, diseases or parasites could get into your water and make your family sick. Clean up the area around your well with a plastic bag and dispose of this waste safely.
There are many ways to safely dispose of your pet's waste. Flushing it down the toilet is one option, though be careful not to flush debris like sticks or rocks. Burying the waste in your yard is another option, though you need to be careful to bury it far away from your well or any other water source. In some municipalities, you may also be allowed to throw your pet's waste in your trash.
Try to protect your well from sources of contamination, and to be sure your family is safe, have the water tested regularly.