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COLUMBIA – If your drinking water comes from a private well, it’s important to test water annually and inspect your well regularly for possible contamination, said a University of Missouri Extension water quality specialist.
“Well water can become contaminated from various sources. There are no federal or state monitoring regulations for private wells,” said Bob Broz.
By law, community water supplies must undergo regular testing, with results disclosed to customers in a timely fashion. This doesn’t apply to private wells. “It is the well owners’ responsibility to keep their wells clean and safe,” Broz said.
Broz advises those with private wells to test their water each year for bacteria. Your county health department can provide you with water test bottles and instructions for sending samples to a state public health laboratory. There is generally a small charge, but it is worth it to know if your water is free from bacteria, he said. For a larger fee, private labs can conduct additional tests, including tests for nitrates, pH and total dissolved solids.
It’s also important to guard your wellhead and the surrounding area from potential sources of contamination. “Make sure the well cap is secure and there isn’t any way for small animals to fall into the well,” he said. Other possible sources of bacteria are livestock or pets getting too close to the well cap.
If you suspect a problem with your well water, get as much information about the well as possible, such as how deep it is, when it was drilled and what is occurring locally that might have an effect on your groundwater. You may need to contract with a licensed well driller to inspect the well.
For more information, see the MU Extension fact sheet “Drinking Water Well Management” (EQM103F), available for free download at http://extension. missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=EQM103F.
For information about having a state public health lab test private drinking water, see http://www. dhss.mo.gov/Lab/EnvBact/PrivateDrinkingWater.html.