Well Water Contamination – What To Do

Well water contamination is a serious issue that can have dangerous consequences for people consuming contaminated water. Contaminated well water can contain bacteria, viruses, and other agents of disease which may lead to illnesses such as gastrointestinal problems, respiratory issues and skin rashes. In addition to this, chemical contaminants like nitrates or heavy metals like arsenic can also be present in well water due to agricultural runoff or industrial pollution. Find the most common problems when it comes to your well water’s quality in this article.

The first sign usually is when you notice your well water looks, smells, or taste strange.  At that point you  should get a testing kit or contact WildHeron Drilling to test your water quality to find the underlying issue. 

How to Properly Test Well Water for Bacterial Contamination

If done correctly, well water testing could save you from bacterial poisoning. By “correctly,” we mean following the right procedures and involving qualified experts.

Below is a guide to help you test your water properly;

1. Draw Water Samples Directly From the Well

Lower a small container tied to a rope into the well and draw a pint of water. If you are using a pump, it is still ok. You just have to disconnect the filters and switch on the pump. After that, collect fresh unfiltered water from the other end.

2. Use a Home Well Water Testing Kit to Test for Contaminants.

Purchase a well water testing kit from any hardware store near you. Make sure you follow the specific kit’s instructions to the letter. The reason for this is that different kits have different rules/ways of use. All in all, the main principle involves dipping the test kit in water (sample) and waiting for the results.

NOTE: A home well water test kit is a reliable but not conclusive method of testing for contaminants. It only indicates if the water is contaminated or not.

3. Mail Sample to Lab

Getting detailed test results using a home kit is close to impossible. Now, this is where water testing labs come in. Mail water samples to a credible lab and wait for experts to send analyzed results. Mail kits are a significant upgrade. This is mainly because they test for more than 50 contaminants. However, they are a bit pricier than the home kits. All in all, they are worth it as you pinpoint the exact problem.


Well Water Contamination Problems

The burden of water contamination is heavy. CDC estimates that the USA loses over $3.3 billion in the fight against water-borne diseases annually. Unfortunately, the problem deepens to claim over 6630 people every year. Though only a small fraction relates to well water, these dreaded statistics spare no one.

Nitrates, arsenic and radon are among the most significant contributors to well water contamination. In the USA, they account for over 30% of such cases. Iron bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms are also key players here.

Now, you are probably wondering how all these things make it to well water. Well, that is what we are going to talk about next.


How Does Well Water Become Contaminated?

Well water can become contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals from a variety of sources. Bacterial contamination is often caused by poor well construction or maintenance, surface runoff from livestock or treated sewage effluent, iron in the soil which attracts iron eating bacteria, or other hazardous chemicals leaking into the groundwater nearby.  This same water source is sucked up through your well to your house/business.  Viral/bacterial contamination comes from bio-hazardous materials leaking into the groundwater or near the well and chemical contamination can come from septic tank runoff, industrial waste or agricultural fertilizers.

Here are some of the common ways in which well water is contaminated;

Natural Sources

Chlorides, arsenic, nitrates, iron and radio nuclides exist in rocks and soil. They dissolve in water as it percolates through rocks, resulting in contamination.  You can also live next to a industrial drainage zone and it could leak into the local water table thereby contaminating your water source.

Decaying organic matter is also another natural contaminant. It does so by introducing bacteria in well water. This has been known to cause adverse effects on water’s taste, odor and the body at large.



Septic Leaks

Around 25% of Americans dispose of wastes in underground septic tanks. In the event that there is a poorly designed septic tank, such wastes often leak out. The effluents usually contain bacteria and viruses. Therefore when they come into contact with groundwater, they tend to contaminate it.

This causes a huge problem

Coliform Bacteria in Well Water

Coliform bacteria are not commonly found in well water and can present a serious health risk if not properly addressed. Coliforms are a type of bacteria that indicate fecal contamination, meaning they come from the intestines of warm-blooded animals and people. This can lead to dangerous pathogens entering the water supply and causing gastrointestinal illnesses like E. coli and others. This is a major sign your well water is contaminated and needs to be treated immediately.


Leakages from Petroleum and Chemical Storage Tanks

The USA has over 4 million oil and chemical tanks. Improper design and use of sloppy materials often cause the tanks to leak. This then poses an environmental and health hazard if the contents mix with underground water.

Treating Iron Bacteria In Well Water

Iron bacteria are tiny living organisms that thrive on ferrous compounds. This is a semi-common problem with well water.  They feed off the iron in your well water and can discolor the linings and water an orange color. They are characterized by a lousy odor, visibility of slime and corrosion of pipes.  They are not a concern for your health as they do not harm you, it is just visually disgusting to drink from that source.  Getting rid of iron bacteria in the water is not a walk in the park, but it can be done. How, you ask? Below are a few techniques you can use.


How Do You Get Rid of Iron Bacteria In Well Water?

Physical Removal

Begin by scrubbing pipes with a brush to detach iron bacteria sticking on the surface. You can also use disinfectants to quicken the job.

Chemical Treatment

“Chemical treatment” is a battery of methods experts use to get rid of iron bacteria. It involves intermittently injecting chemical compounds into well water. Calcium hypochlorite or chlorine pellets are some of the most common chemicals used in this process.

Shock Chlorination

Shock chlorination involves adding a high concentration of chlorine solution to well water in order to combat bacteria and viruses. Doing so is also known to kill other unwanted microbes like algae and molds living on the well’s casing.

Experts suggest adding around 200 ppm of chlorine to the well. Any concentration above that will lower the method’s effectiveness.


What to do for Methane Contamination of Well Water

Dissolved methane in well water can quickly escape and spread once you open your faucets. Since methane is highly flammable, its presence in your house causes a fire hazard. Furthermore, in high concentrations, the gas is said to cause asphyxiation. This is simply the deprivation of oxygen which can easily lead to death.

For these reasons, you must learn how to deal with methane contamination. Here is how to do so;


Aeration involves using a galvanized pressurized tank and directing a delivery pipe from it. Once this is done, one is supposed to open the valve. Doing so causes air to flow into water and escape out with methane.

Gas Shrouds

A shroud is a pipe surrounding a submersible pump that is sealed on the bottom and opens up on the top. The pipe is perforated around the pump to allow water to sip in so that the pump can push the methane to the surface. After the process is complete, water with a low methane concentration is left inside the shroud.


Well water can indeed get contaminated. Natural sources, mines and chemicals are common causes of this contamination. The good thing is that this can be fixed using a number of methods. Aeration and use of gas shrouds are great examples of these techniques.

It is a great idea to test every 1-3 years to determine if you water is contaminated or not and determine other issues as a preventive step.  As much as you can try and do it yourself, hiring professionals is very important as it makes the whole cleaning process effective and less stressful. If you would like to get experts to handle well water contamination issues for you, we are here.

Contact us today to get your well inspected!

We will make sure that by the time we are done, your water will be free of impurities and contamination.  Your health is extremley important and it starts with what you put into your body everyday.