The Department of Public Health recommends that well water owners regularly inspect their wells for sources and entry points of contamination. Problems can exist with the land surface, the structure covering the well, the slab, the electrical conduit, the well water cap, casing, screen, and filtration equipment. Shallow and improperly constructed wells are especially vulnerable to contamination due to the potential of surface run-offs and spills getting into your water supply.
For homes that use private well water, there can be certain risks if the well is not adequately maintained and the water routinely tested. The water in your well can become contaminated from various chemical and biological hazards and make you sick. The Georgia Environmental Protection Agency monitors large water systems, but for private wells, monitoring is not a requirement.
There are no federal or state regulations for water testing or maintaining private wells. It is the well water owner’s responsibility to make sure their water is safe to drink. “Many contaminants do not affect the taste and appearance of your water but could affect your health,” states Dwain Butler, Environmental Health Director of the Southeast Health District. He recommends that private well water owners test their wells routinely to ensure the safety of their drinking water.
Your local County Health Department can conduct a bacteria test (total coliform and fecal coliform) on a private well for the cost of $30. These types of bacteria are known as indicators. If the results show these bacteria present, the owner receives instructions on how to chlorinate the well, and a follow-up test is conducted. If the bacteria continue to be present, then more extensive testing may be recommended. In addition to bacterial testing, it’s a recommendation that a chemical screening (W33C analysis) of well water is conducted every three years. The W33C, also known as the Private Well Chemical Test (PWCT), is the revised chemical profile for private well water owners. It incorporates specific tests for arsenic and lead. Your local UGA County Extension office can provide more information on this testing.
Remember, to have your water tested, contact your local County Public Health Department at 855-473-4374, or UGA County Cooperative Extension Agent or a certified private laboratory.