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Focus on Agriculture

March 5, 2014

Time to Check Your Water Wells

By Cyndie Sirekis

Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries regularly, spring is a good season to have an annual water well checkup before the peak water use season begins, according to the National Ground Water Association. NGWA’s Groundwater Awareness Week is March 9-15.

An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water.

Also, preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance—like good car maintenance—can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. NGWA further recommends you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, or when the system is serviced.

Wells can provide high-quality drinking water, and about half of the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells. But with well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order. A check of your well by a qualified water well contractor may include:

A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).

A well equipment inspection to assure it’s sanitary and meets local code.

A test of your water for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern. Other optional tests are those for iron, manganese, water hardness, sulfides and other water constituents that cause problems with plumbing, staining, water appearance and odor.

Well owners should also:

Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil far away from wells, and maintain a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between every well and any kennels and livestock operations.

Maintain proper separation between wells and buildings, waste systems and chemical storage areas.

Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.

Cyndie Sirekis is director of news services at the American Farm Bureau Federation.