Water

private-water-suppliesPrivate Water Supplies (Well Water)

Newly installed wells should have the water tested for bacteria and nitrates/nitrites. Regular testing of your well water is not mandated by the government. It is solely up to you to take the necessary precautions and assure that the water quality is acceptable.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you should have your water tested annually, more often if you notice any difference in your water. The following is recommended by the EPA for protecting your well:

The following is recommended by the EPA for protecting your well:

  1. Pump and inspect septic systems as often as recommended by your local health department.
  2. Slope the area around the well to drain surface runoff away from the well
  3. Install a well cap or sanitary seal to prevent unauthorized use of, or entry into the well.
  4. Disinfecting drinking water wells should be utilized when testing indicates the presence of bacteria. Please exercise caution. Excessive and /or unnecessary disinfection can cause unwanted wear and tear on well components and significantly shorten their life span.
  5. Keep accurate records of any well maintenance especially if it includes the use of chemicals, i.e. disinfection or sediment removal.
  6. Hire a Certified Well Driller for new well construction, modification, abandonment and closure.
  7. Avoid mixing or using pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, degreasers, fuels and other pollutants near the well.
  8. Do not dispose of wastes in dry or abandoned wells.
  9. Never dispose hazardous materials in a septic system.

For more information regarding private drinking water wells please visit the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/privatewells/index2.html

Definitions

  • environmental field samplingAquifer – An underground formation or group of formations in rocks and soils containing enough groundwater to supply wells and springs.
  • Backflow – A reverse flow in water pipes. A difference in water pressurespulls water from sources other than the well into a home’s water system, for example waste water or flood water. Also called back siphonage.
  • Bacteria – Microscopic living organisms; some are helpful and some are harmful. “Good” bacteria aid in pollution control by consuming and breaking down organic matter and other pollutants in septic systems, sewage, oil spills, and soils. However, “bad” bacteria in soil, water, or air can cause human, animal, and plant health problems.
  • Confining layer – Layer of rock that keeps the ground water in the aquifer below it under pressure. This pressure creates springs and helps supply water to wells.
  • Contaminant – Anything found in water (including microorganisms, minerals, chemicals, radionuclide’s, etc.) which may be harmful to human health.
  • Cross-connection – Any actual or potential connection between a drinking (potable) water supply and a source of contamination.
  • Heavy metals – Metallic elements with high atomic weights, such as, mercury chromium cadmium, arsenic, and lead. Even at low levels these metals can damage living things. They do not break down or decompose and tend to build up in plants, animals, and people causing health concerns.
  • Leaching field – The entire area where many materials (including contaminants) dissolve in rain, snowmelt, or irrigation water and are filtered through the soil.
  • Microorganisms – Also called microbes. Very tiny life forms such as bacteria, algae, diatoms, parasites, plankton, and fungi. Some can cause disease.
  • Nitrates – Plant nutrient and fertilizer that enters water supply sources from fertilizers, animal feed lots, manures, sewage, septic systems, industrial wastewaters, sanitary landfills, and garbage dumps.
  • Protozoa – One-celled animals, usually microscopic, that are larger and more complex than bacteria. May cause disease.
  • Radon – A colorless, odorless naturally occurring radioactive gas formed by the breakdown or decay of radium or uranium in soil or rocks like granite. Radon is fairly soluble in water, so well water may contain radon.
  • Radionuclide’s – Distinct radioactive particles coming from both natural sources and human activities. Can be very long lasting as soil or water pollutants.
  • Recharge area – The land area through or over which rainwater and other surface water soaks through the earth to replenish an aquifer, lake, stream, river, or marsh. Also called a watershed.
  • Saturated zone – The underground area below the water table where all open spaces are filled with water. A well placed in this zone will be able to pump ground water.
  • Unsaturated zone – The area above the ground water level or water table where soil pores are not fully saturated, although some water may be present.
  • Viruses – Submicroscopic disease-causing organisms that grow only inside living cells.
  • Watershed – The land area that catches rain or snow and drains it into a local water body (such as a river, stream, lake, marsh, or aquifer) and affects its flow, and the local water level. Also called a recharge area.
  • Water table – The upper level of the saturated zone. This level varies greatly in different parts of the country and also varies seasonally depending on the amount of rain and snowmelt.
  • Well cap – A tight-fitting, vermin-proof seal designed to prevent contaminants from flowing down inside of the well casing.
  • Well casing – The tubular lining of a well. Also a steel or plastic pipe installed during construction to prevent collapse of the well hole.
  • Wellhead – The top-of a structure built over a well. Term also used for the source of a well or stream.

Testing and Terminology Explanation

  • IMG_7375Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) would be needed if you are located near an area that could possibly be contaminated with petroleum fuels (e.g. natural gas, gasoline) or in an area where solvents are used.
  • Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) sampling would be needed if drinking water is being disinfected with chlorine or bromine.
  • Coliform Bacteria testing is used to determine whether drinking water is safe to consume. Coliform bacteria are a type of natural bacteria that occurs in the environment.
  • Escherichia (E.Coli.) is a type of fecal coliform commonly found in humans or animals. Testing for E.coli. would indicate whether or not there is human or animal waste contamination.
  • Fecal Coliform testing is needed to indicate contamination of human or animal waste getting into a water system.
  • Iron and Manganese are naturally occurring metals found in groundwater. Iron will cause a metallic taste and orange-brown stains that could make water unsuitable for drinking and clothes washing. Manganese can cause an objectionable taste and blackish stains can occur.
  • Lead and Copper testing would be done to check for corrosion in your plumbing system, caused by copper, galvanized, or brass piping with lead solder. If corrosion is present it could cause blue-green stains in fixtures and could cause a metallic taste.
  • Corrosivity testing is done to check for aggressive/acidic water which can cause corrosion in your plumbing system. Corrosive water may increase copper and lead concentrations in drinking water.
  • FHA /VHA Loan Package is a list composed of all required testing needed for homebuyers using this type of financing. The package includes the following:
    Total Coliform, pH, Nitrate/Nitrite, Lead, Iron, Surfactants, Total Solids, Hardness.
  • Nitrates are found in agricultural areas where fertilizers are used. Testing for nitrates and nitrites can be done to ensure that there is no contamination present in drinking water.
  • Coliform and Nitrate package would be for customers who live in an agricultural area that would like to ensure the drinking water is not contaminated and safe to consume.

Drinking Water

Sampling Instructions for Coliform and Fecal Coliform Bacteria

  1. Choose a water tap which has no aerator or one which the aerator can be removed. If tap leaks it cannot be used.
  2. Allow cold water to run evenly for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Open bottle cap DO NOT RINSE OR OVERFLOW, bottle contains a dechlorinating agent which must be mixed with sample.
  4. DO NOT TOUCH INSIDE OF BOTTLE OR CAP.
  5. Fill sterilized container to 100ml mark. Replace cap and press down to ensure cap is tight.
  6. Return sample to laboratory within 24 hrs. of taking the sample.

field sampling equipmentSample must be kept cold until received at laboratory.
SAMPLE must be transported on ice.
NOTE: Payment is due when samples are received at laboratory. Acceptable payment methods Cash, Check, Credit Card
Sample will be refused if less than 100ml.
Bacteria samples are accepted Monday – Thursday 8a.m. to 4p.m.
No Bacteria samples are accepted on Friday

Sampling Instructions for Drinking Water VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds)
NOTE: 1:1HCL and a pasture pipet will be needed for this sampling. Laboratory provides 3 sample vials that contain Ascorbic Acid and one vial that is a Trip Blank. All four vials should be returned to the Laboratory.

  1. Allow cold water to run for approximately 5 minutes
  2. Reduce flow to a slow steady stream.
  3. Fill vial half way, add 2 drops of 1:1 Hydrochloric acid, and continue filling vial to extreme top. DO NOT OVERFLOW.
  4. Replace cap and tighten.
  5. Follow steps 3 & 4 to fill other two vials.
  6. Flip sample bottles upside down to ensure that there are NOair bubbles. If air bubbles are present sample cannot be accepted at lab.
  7. Keep samples at 4ºC from time of sampling until delivered to laboratory.
  8. Samples must be received at lab within 24hrs.

Sampling Instructions for Copper and Lead
NOTE:

  • After selecting location that sample will be taken from, allow tap to sit unused for a minimum of 6 hours for most accurate results.
  • It is recommended that sample be taken as the first draw of the day or upon returning home from work. This would allow for the water to be unused for a minimum of 6hrs.
  • If possible a kitchen or bathroom tap would be best sampling point.
  • Sample will not be accurate if sample is taken from a tap that is hooked up to a water softener. If kitchen tap is hooked up to a water softener than take sample from bathroom tap or another tap that is not hooked up to the water softener.
  1. Do not remove aerator prior to sampling.
  2. Place open bottle under tap and slowly open the cold water tap. Fill sample bottle to 1000ml line. (If no line is provided fill to top).
  3. Turn water off and replace cap and tighten to ensure sample does not spill.
  4. Label bottle and complete chain of custody with all required information.
    Please include any plumbing work recently done or if sample had to be taken from a tap that is hooked up to a water softener.
  5. Keep sample cold from time of sampling until delivery to laboratory.
  6. Sample must be received at lab within 24hrs.

Sampling Instructions for Nitrates

  1. Allow water to run for approximately 1 minute.
  2. Fill 8oz. bottle to top replace cap and tighten.
  3. Keep sample cold from time of sampling until delivery to laboratory.
  4. Sample must be received at lab within 24hrs.

Sampling instructions for Iron, Manganese, Corrosivity and FHA/VHA Loan
NOTE: Aerator does not need to be removed. Allow cold water to run for approximately one minute.

  1. Fill sample bottle to 1000ml mark (if no mark is provided fill bottle to top).
  2. Replace cap and tighten.
  3. Keep sample cold until delivered to laboratory.
  4. Sample must be received at lab within 24hrs.

Sampling instructions for TTHMs (Total Trihalomethanes)
NOTE: 1:1HCL and a pasture pipet will be needed for this sampling. Laboratory provides 3 sample vials that contain Ascorbic Acid and one vial that is a Trip Blank. All four vials should be returned to the Laboratory.

  1. Allow cold water to run for approximately 5 minutes
  2. Reduce flow to a slow steady stream.
  3. Fill vial half way, add 2 drops of 1:1 Hydrochloric acid, and continue filling vial to extreme top. DO NOT OVERFLOW.
  4. Replace cap and tighten.
  5. Follow steps 3 & 4 to fill other two vials.
  6. Flip sample bottles upside down to ensure that there are NOair bubbles. If air bubbles are present sample cannot be accepted at lab.
  7. Keep samples at 4ºC from time of sampling until delivered to laboratory.
  8. Samples must be received at lab within 24hrs.

Sampling instructions for HAA5’s (Haloacetic Acids)
Note: Aerator does not need to be removed.

  1. Allow cold water to run for approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce flow of water to a steady stream.
  3. Fill 1 250ml Amber jar containing 0.025 g. of Ammonium Chloride.
  4. Replace lid, and make sure it is secure.
  5. Keep samples at 4°C from the time of sampling until received at the laboratory.
  6. Samples must be received at lab within 24hrs.