March 9, 2015
Health officials recommend steps for private well owners to protect health, water
National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 8-14
Properly maintaining wells that tap into groundwater is critical for protecting personal health and the resource, say state health officials. National Groundwater Awareness Week was established more than two decades ago to bring attention to the important role that groundwater plays in the health and well-being of people. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends all well owners take some basic steps to maintain their well and protect their drinking water.
Basic Wellhead Inspection: Keep insects, rodents, snakes and other undesirable critters out of your well. Keep lawn mowers, snowplows and other equipment away from wells. Follow the Three Cs of well maintenance:
- Cap - ensure the well cap is securely attached and not broken or missing, and the connections through the cap are watertight.
- Casing - observe the well pipe or casing for cracks or corrosion. Call a licensed well contractor for repairs.
- Conduit - confirm that the conduit for the electric service wire to the well is securely connected to the well cap.
Well Water Testing: Complete basic water testing to ensure safe drinking water. Your local county health department may provide or arrange for testing, or you can find certified testing laboratories at the website below.
The following are what you typically will want to test your water for. Other testing may be needed depending on where you live and the surrounding land use.
- Bacteria - complete a total coliform bacteria test annually or any time your water system is serviced, or you notice a change in taste, color, or odor.
- Nitrate - complete a nitrate test every two years, or annually if nitrate is detected in your well, and always before giving the water to an infant.
- Arsenic - complete an arsenic test once.
- Lead - complete a lead test once, or always flush faucets for at least one to two minutes before using water from them for drinking or cooking when the water has not been used for six hours or longer and never drink from your hot water taps.
Sealing Unused Wells: Unused, unsealed wells are a direct conduit for contamination to enter your drinking water resource and the larger groundwater aquifer system. They also pose a safety hazard. Remember, only a licensed well contractor can seal wells in Minnesota, including sand-points and large diameter dug wells.
More details on well construction, drinking water quality, well water testing, and certified testing laboratories can be found at: Wells and Borings, or contact MDH, local health departments, or local licensed well contractors.
Well specialists are available to answer questions at MDH district offices in Bemidji (218-308-2100), Duluth (218-302-6166), Fergus Falls (218-332-5150), Marshall (507-476-4220), Rochester (507-206-2700), St. Cloud (320-223-7300), and the Twin Cities (651-201-4600 or 1-800-383-9808).
For more information on what Minnesota is doing and what you can do to protect groundwater and drinking water, visit the MDH Clean Water Fund website.