Symptoms of well water contamination
If you’re one of the remote households in the UK that uses well water for your private water supply, the responsibility falls 100% on you to keep it safe and drinkable. This is the water you’ll be using to bathe in and to cook your food too, and unlike the public water supply, there is no regulation to keep contaminants at a low level.
This can make well water ownership a challenge and one of the most pressing challenges for any user is the potential for well water contamination. If your water is contaminated it can lead to a variety of health concerns, with the following contaminants the most common culprits.
Well water contaminants
Contaminants can make their way into your well water either through groundwater movement, or surface seepage and runoff. They typically include: –
Fluoride – While beneficial in minor quantities, too much fluoride can lead to bone weakness and other health conditions.
Metals – Everything from copper to lead can make its way into your well water and this could lead to serious toxicity and anaemia.
Chemicals – From pesticides and disinfectants to inks and dyes, any chemicals that find their way into your well could have a serious detrimental impact on your health.
Microorganisms – Bacteria, viruses and parasites can also find their way into your well.
The signs of well water contamination
If you use well water as your primary water supply, look out for these signs, smells and tastes.
Opaque water – Murky water often means it’s been contaminated as it’s run over particles in the ground or through rusted pipes.
Stains – If there are high levels of acid in your water, you’ll notice your sink and facets developing a slight green tint. If you notice brown or red stains, meanwhile, it often means there is evidence of iron deposits in the well.
Scum – If you’ve noticed a build-up of a white substance, it means the water might be a little too hard, which means too many minerals.
Salty or soapy taste – Noticing a subtle salty taste in your water means it could have been contaminated with sodium or chloride. While fine in small doses, too much of either can damage you and your plumbing. A soapy taste, meanwhile, means added levels of alkaline, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Metal and chemical taste – If your water’s taste reminds you of putting pennies in your mouth as a child then you could have too much acidic content in your well. A more chemical taste, however, could mean pesticides have made their way into your well.
A bad smell – Finally, if your well water smells off then it’s probably been contaminated. A rotten egg smell typically means a reaction between the soil and rocks in your well has created a sulphur build-up. A more chemical, detergent or chlorine smell, meanwhile, could mean either your septic tank is leaking or you’re using too much chlorine in your water treatment.
Whatever the cause of your contamination, we’d always recommend having your well seen by a professional ASAP. To ensure you’re only getting water that’s safe and usable, however, we’d suggest that all well water users have a water filtration system installed, with reverse osmosis water filters generally offering the best results.