Like furnaces, chimneys, and people, household-supply water wells need routine checkups to make sure they are operating at their best. Encouraging homeowners to schedule their annual water well "checkups" is one of the key points the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) is promoting in conjunction with its 2003 Ground Water Awareness Week, March 16-22.
Water wells tapping our nation's vast ground water resources can provide a very high quality drinking and household-use water supply. More than 15 million households in the U.S. have their own water well. The owners of these wells have control of, and responsibility for, their water supply. Scheduling an annual well checkup conducted by a licensed and/or certified ground water contractor is one important step they can take to ensure the proper operation of the well and to prolong its years of service, as well as monitor the water quality.
The checkup should include
-- A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding, and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact, and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).
-- An inspection of well equipment to assure that it is sanitary and meets local code requirements.
-- A test of your water for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern. Other typical additional tests are those for iron, manganese, water hardness, sulfides, and other water constituents that cause problems with plumbing, staining, water appearance, and odor. Changes in these constituents also may indicate changes in your well or local ground water. Additional tests may be recommended if water appears cloudy or oily, if bacterial growth is visible on fixtures, or water treatment devices are not working as they should. Check with your water well contractor, state department of natural resources, or local health department for information on local water quality issues.
-- A concise, clear, written report should be delivered to you following the checkup that explains results and recommendations, and includes all laboratory and other test results.
Water well owners can locate NGWA-member contractors in or near their community through the contractor lookup service at www.wellowner.org, NGWA's consumer Web site, or by calling NGWA at 800-551-7379. Well owners can also find water well contractors in the phone book under "Well Drilling and Service." NGWA recommends that consumers check with other well owners or other knowledgeable people for good contractor referrals, and ask the contractor for a list of references. Consumers should then check with the contractor to make sure they will perform the maintenance check described.
In addition to ensuring the delivery of quality household water supplies, water well maintenance is important for protecting the integrity of valuable ground water resources. NGWA's annual Ground Water Awareness Week observance is designed to raise the profile of ground water as a vital natural resource that is increasingly important to ecosystems and human activity. Ground waterthe water that soaks into the soil from precipitation and moves downward to fill cracks and other openings in beds of rocks and sandis the principle reserve of fresh water in the U.S. It is a major source of water for lakes, streams and wetlands. It is also the drinking water source for 47 percent of the population of the United States.
For more information, visit NGWA's consumer Web site, www.wellowner.org. The site addresses many common consumer questions with free information relating to the ground water resource and owning a private water well. Additional information is also available by calling NGWA customer service at 800-551-7379.
National Ground Water Association members include more than 15,500 U.S. and international ground water professionalscontractors, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and ground water scientists and engineers. NGWA provides members, government, and the general public with the scientific knowledge and economic guidance necessary to responsibly develop, protect, and manage the world's ground water resources.