Private water wells are a significant source of drinking water in the United States, with over 13 million American households relying on wells for water. Testing the water annually is an integral part of ensuring that the drinking water is not contaminated and that it is being treated properly. Learn the basics of testing well water here.
Well water is tested for water quality indicators (WQIs). Testing checks for contaminants in the water and measures what is there and how much. Most of the time WQIs are not going to make you ill. However, if there is some presence there, it could indicate a serious problem that may get worse down the road.
There are a number of tests used to determine how safe and healthy a water supply is. Most water well tests are looking for basic water potability, bacteria called coliform, ions like chloride and sulphate, fluoride, and any dissolved solids. In some cases, a chemical like fluoride is a good component to have, but too much can cause dental problems.
The water well should be tested annually, in the spring when the weather begins to get warmer. The well should be checked for mechanical issues, and also for coliform, nitrates, and total dissolved solids. If you are wondering if your water has any other contaminants, it is possible to have your water assessed for additional problems.
Before you have any additional problems looked into, do some research to determine if additional testing is necessary. Additional testing is going to be expensive. Your local health department can help you to determine if that testing is necessary.
There are a certain number of factors that can help you to determine if your well water needs additional testing. If you have had problems over the winter near the well such as flooding, this might indicate the need for further testing. Any kind of changes or repairs that you have made could impact the water quality. You might also notice a change in the taste or odor of the water.
Those would be indicators of a need for further testing, but it is rare to need it in other circumstances.
Check with your local health department to determine if your water needs to be tested. They will tell you if you need any additional assessments on your water quality.