Most of us take our drinking water for granted. Whether a well serves one home or a public water system, it needs maintenance to continue producing safe water. The way land near a well is used can also affect the quality of the water.
Here are some things that well owners can do to help protect drinking water and public health.
Know the type and location of your well.
Your well may be in a different place than your pump or pressure tank. Once you have located it, determine if it is a dug well or a drilled well. Dug wells are shallow and may easily be contaminated by surface runoff. Drilled wells are deeper and better protected from surface contamination.
Inspect the wellhead.
Periodically examine the well cap, seal and the area around the casing for any leaks and make sure that the access port is plugged. If there is a well vent, it should be inverted and screened. The well casing should extend one to two feet above the ground surface (or flood level). The area around the casing should be mounded with clay to prevent surface water from collecting around it, if necessary. If it seems that repairs are needed, call a licensed well driller.
Test your well water.
We recommend that individual wells be tested once a year for bacteria, and every three years for nitrate. Public water systems have required testing schedules based on the size and history of the system. Contact Environmental Health for specific testing requirements. Clallam County offers bacteria and nitrate testing.
Keep records of the well installation, as well as any repairs, pump tests and water tests you have done on your well. A copy of your well log will be useful for future construction permits or property sales.
Keep surface water runoff away from the wellhead.
The well should be up-slope from potential contamination sources. If necessary, install a curtain drain to divert surface runoff.
Maintain a ‘no-pollution' buffer.
Public water supplies require a 100’ protective radius around the well. For individual wells it is recommended to maintain a buffer of 100 feet around the well if possible. Store garden and animal wastes, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other potential contaminants outside your "no-pollution" buffer. Do not store chemicals in your well house. Fence off animal access to your well. Shield animal waste from rain.
Protect the soil from contamination.
Protect the soil from being contaminated by oil, gasoline and household chemicals. For suggestions for safer alternatives to products that can harm the drinking water supply, and how to dispose of hazardous chemicals safely, contact Environmental Health.
Garden and landscape carefully.
Avoid using or mixing fertilizers and pesticides within 100 feet of the well. Use alternative methods for pest control, such as biodegradable products, physical barriers, beneficial insects and companion planting. If needed, apply chemicals sparingly and follow instructions carefully. Avoid over-watering.
Report abandoned wells to the Washington State Department of Ecology – (360) 407-0281. It is the property owner's responsibility to have abandoned wells decommissioned.