Testing Water Regularly Should be Standard Practice for Private Water Well Owners

NGWA said private well owners should test water regularly for bacteria, nitrate and more

Private water well owners should test their water regularly for bacteria, nitrate and anything of local concern, the National Ground Water Assn. (NGWA) said today, citing the possibility of arsenic and uranium in some central and northeastern Massachusetts bedrock wells as a local concern.

If well owners find arsenic or uranium at levels that exceed health benchmarks, the substances can be treated effectively, according to an NGWA press release.

It was reported this week that only 10 of about 1,500 owners of private wells in Northborough tested their water for arsenic and uranium in response to a letter sent to all residents a year ago by Jamie Terry, board of health agent. Only one of those 10 well owners who did test reported finding a health concern (arsenic above safe levels).

“NGWA has long advised private water well owners nationwide to annually test their water for bacteria, nitrate and anything of local concern,” said NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens. “In some parts of Massachusetts, particularly where wells are in bedrock settings, arsenic and uranium are a local concern worthy of testing.”

Like Terry, NGWA recommends private well owners use certified drinking water testing laboratories. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant levels for arsenic and uranium in public drinking water are:

  • 10 ppb for arsenic; and
  • 0.030 mg/L for uranium.

Treyens said questions about well construction, maintenance, water testing and water treatment should be addressed to a qualified water well system professional. Technologies available that can easily treat naturally occurring arsenic and uranium in well water to safe levels include reverse osmosis and distillation. Anion exchange and specialty resins or media are also good choices for treating arsenic, while cation exchange works for treating uranium.

For more information about groundwater and wells, visit the NGWA site for private well owners: www.wellowner.org.



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