Proper Well Maintenance

Responsible well ownership begins with you. To prevent contamination, keep at least 50 feet around your well free from chemicals, equipment storage and recreational activities. Also, keep septic leach fields or spray areas, animal enclosures, manure/compost piles, chemical/fuel storage, machinery maintenance and auto repair activity at least 150 feet from your well.

Additionally, you can protect your well from damage and avoid costly repairs by building a small enclosure around it with access for maintenance. Securing the entrance will help protect your well from possible intruders such as pets, livestock and other animals.

Protecting Your Water at the Source

You can minimize problems and protect our water by working with a licensed well contractor to establish a routine inspection and maintenance schedule based on your well’s features and your specific water supply needs.

Inspect the Wellhead Several Times a Year  

  • Prevent surface water from collecting and flowing into the well by making sure the ground slopes away from the well and that the well casing extends at least one foot above the ground.
  • Cap, seal or plug any unintended cracks or openings.
  • Ensure there are no open spaces around the well casing into which contaminants could flow.
  • Have your well contractor stop any water flowing from the top of the well.
  • Remove pest-attracting foliage and other debris from around the well.
  • Never use or store hazardous chemicals around your well.
  • Check inactive wells as you would an active one.
  • Turn the pump on several times a year to ensure proper functioning. If you won’t be using the well again, have it properly plugged.

Keep Complete Well Records

  • Permits. Keep all permits required for constructing your well.
  • Driller’s records. Describe well construction details including total depth, amount of well casing installed, type of well casing used, any uncased or screened interval, depth where water was encountered and soil or rock types encountered.
  • Pump Test Data. Notes how much water the well can produce.
  • Distribution Map. Draw or obtain a map of all the buried water pipes connected to the well. If you share the well, map the plumbing in neighboring property, too.
  • Physical Location. Measure the distance from the well to permanent structures (e.g. centerline of the road or corner of the house).
  • Maintenance Records. Include details of all maintenance performed.
  • Water Quality Data. Helps detect changes, which may indicate problems. Annual testing for harmful bacteria is recommended.
  • Disinfection History. Note why, when and how it was done.

Water Sampling Your Well

Surface water can flow quickly into a karst aquifer, picking up substances in its path, including potentially harmful substances resulting from animal and human activity. Knowing and tracking changes in the quality of your well water is an important step in ensuring it remains safe for consumption. The EAA recommends well owners periodically submit water samples from their well to a certified laboratory to check:

  • Annually for bacteria, nitrates and/or nitrites and any contaminants of local concern.
  • More frequently if there is a change in taste, odor, appearance or the introduction of possible contamination sources in the area.
  • If family or visitors have recurrent gastrointestinal illness.
  • If an infant is living in the home.
  • To monitor efficiency and performance of water treatment equipment.

Before testing, make sure your well system is properly disinfected. Testing water collected from recently repaired pumping equipment or a dirty tap can lead to false positives. Your licensed well contractor can disinfect your well. In addition, the laboratory performing the water analysis can provide instructions on how to disinfect the sampling tap and provide proper sample containers. A water treatment device will often resolve any water quality issues, but it should be noted that not all water treatment systems work for every contaminant or for every water type. A water treatment professional can help you determine which device will work best on the substances you want to treat.