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A little info for you...
Unlike municipal water supplies that are monitored by State & Federal agencies, private wells must be monitored by the homeowner. Private wells pump groundwater from the ground into a storage tank for domestic use. Groundwater can become contaminated in many ways and it should be regularly tested by the homeowner.
Where Does the Water Come From?
Rain and snow that seeps into the earth is called ground water. Ninety-seven percent of the world's fresh water supply is ground water that lies below the earth's surface. The top portion of the ground water, called the water table, can be anywhere from one to one thousand feet from the surface.
How Do Well Systems Work?
The functional components of a well system are the well pump, the storage tank, and the pressure switches. The well pump pumps the ground water up and into the storage tank. As the storage tank fills, it compresses the air in the tank. The pressure switches are set to signal the well pump when to pump water into the tank and when to stop. As the tank fills it compresses the air creating pressure. This is where the water pressure originates. As you use water, the water level lowers in the tank, lowering the pressure. The pressure drops, when the pressure reashes 20psi, the switch activates the pump, filling the tank and raising the pressure back to 40psi.
Common Well Water Contaminants
Physical contaminants include sediment, clays and suspended matter. When the suspended solids and matter in the water are grouped together, it is called turbidity. Turbidity breeds bacteria and viruses, and can also create harmful byproducts from chlorination. Chemical contaminents include all dissolved minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, nitrates, lead, arsenic, selenium, mercury, decaying organics, hydrogen sulfide, and others
Extended Water Profile
If the water is supplied by a private well system, laboratory analysis of the water can be performed to ensure potability. The following are tested for in the extended water profile: coliform bacteria and E Coli, chlorine, color, odor, iron, manganese, sodium chloride, hardness, nitrate-nitrate nitrogen, PH, sulfate, and turbidity
Lead is a metal formerly used in soldering joints in plumbing systems. It is now prohibited, but many houses still have lead in their plumbing systems. An excess amount of lead in the water can have effects on the brain, kidneys, and nervous system.
Lead in Water
In 1992, as a result of legislation written in Congress, a new EPA standard for lead and copper became effective. This standard is intended to help communities around the nation reduce their exposure to lead/copper from all sources, including air, lead based paint, soil, and dust. Lead paint is the main source of lead poisoning; however, lead contamination from water can contribute 10 to 20 percent of a person's exposure.
Signs that Lead May Be Present in Your Water
Although water supplied from your water treatment plant may be free from lead, contamination from your piping system may cause lead to dissolve (leach) into your water supply if:
- You have lead service line connecting your home to the street's water main;
- Your home has lead water supply pipes; You have lead containing soldered joints in your copper supply pipes (installed from 1983-1986);
- You have plumbing fixtures containing lead.
- In rare cases, some lead leaching may take place from piping in the street if is a low flow area, i.e., dead end streets
Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes in some communities have lead levels above the EPA action level of fifteen parts per billion (ppb), or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mgL).
Health Effects of Lead
Lead can pose a significant threat to your health if too much of it enters your body. Lead builds up in the body over many years and can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys. The greatest risk is to young children and pregnant women. Amounts of lead that won't hurt adults can slow down normal mental and physical development of growing bodies. In addition, a child at play often comes into contact with sources of lead contamination - like dirt and dust - that rarely affect an adult. It is important to wash children's hands and toys often, and to try to make sure they only put food in their mouths.
Testing for Lead in Water
There are two standard tests commonly used to test for the concentration of lead and other metals in water. They are the IMS (Immediate Metal Sample), and the NMS (Normal Metal Sample). The IMS is taken to determine the maximum concentration of metals present in the water as a result of the water being undisturbed for a minimum of 6 hours. The NMS is taken to determine the base water quality. The NMS procedure is also taken as a follow up for a high IMS result. If your lead result is above the acceptable level, you may have to do follow up testing, check pH, filter the water, or use an acid neutralizer.