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Thread: Shallow well water quality

  1. #1
    DIY Member dirtmover's Avatar
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    Default Shallow well water quality

    I've got an offer in on a property. The current owner knows very little about the well, location, depth etc. He's only owned the property for 5 years so has probably never had to deal with it. I did notice that he's using a convertible jet pump mounted on the pressure tank. The pump hasn't been converted so I'm guessing this tells us that the well is no deeper than 25'. We had the water tested for potability and Public Health gave it the all clear. The current owner also tells us that he had it tested annually and never had any issues.

    Should I be concerned with possible drinking water quality issues with this well? Should I be taking precautionary measures such as a UV water sanitizer? Anything else I should be concerned about regarding the well if I proceed with this purchase?

  2. #2
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Well #7 purported to be the one in operation at the time of the Walkerton deaths was 76 metres deep.

    Is there commercial animal production in the area?

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    All water systems, especially if they have any posibility of run off or other contamination should be checked for sanitary conditions. However, you should not be afraid of well water. Most of the time well water is even safer than city water. (At least no toxic chlorine is added unless it is really needed) The difference is with well water, you are in charge of keeping it sanitary. I like this much better than relying on any government entity to tell me the water is safe. Read the following quote about the Walkerton water problem. The contaminated well wasn’t as much of a problem as the incompatence of the public officials who were paid hansomely to make sure the water supply was safe.

    “The water supply became contaminated with the highly dangerous O157:H7 strain of E. coli bacteria, from farm runoff into an adjacent well that had been known for years to be vulnerable to contamination. For days the Walkerton Public Utilities Commission insisted the water supply was "OK" despite being in possession of laboratory tests that had found evidence of contamination. On 21 May, an escalation in the number of patients with similar symptoms finally spurred the region's Medical Officer of Health, Murray McQuigge, to issue a boil water advisory, warning residents not to drink the tapwater.

    Seven people died directly from drinking the E. coli-contaminated water, who might have been saved if the Walkerton Public Utilities Commission had admitted to contaminated water sooner, and about 2,500 became ill.”

    Government officials don’t like to admit to a problem, because that means they aren’t doing their job. Sounds like everything else that is happening in our country today.

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valveman View Post
    Government officials don’t like to admit to a problem, because that means they aren’t doing their job. Sounds like everything else that is happening in our country today.

    That is spot on.

    Nice Post, best I have seen in a minute.

    Very True.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    I dont like shallow wells that rely on surface water so, if it were me, I would install a UV light and have it serviced every year.

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    DIY Member dirtmover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craigpump View Post
    I dont like shallow wells that rely on surface water so, if it were me, I would install a UV light and have it serviced every year.
    Thanks for the on topic answer. This is what I was thinking. How good/reliable are these lights. Can they be considered a dependable first line of defense or should I still be regularly testing the water?

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    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    They are very effective, but need to be serviced every year for maximum effectiveness. For me, servicing entails changing the quartz tube and the UV bulb.

    I would still test the water just to be sure.

  8. #8
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    In this area it only costs $2 to have our water tested.

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Soil usually makes a pretty good filter. Water doesn’t have to filter through very many feet of soil before it is clean and safe. As long as the wellhead and neighbors wellheads are sealed and there are no other places where rain or run off can directly enter the well, shallow wells are still fairly safe. The UV light is a good idea though, just in case.

  10. #10
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valveman View Post
    As long as the wellhead and neighbors wellheads are sealed and there are no other places where rain or run off can directly enter the well, shallow wells are still fairly safe.
    As in the Walkerton incident, it was purported to be another well that contaminated the aquifer, not Well #7 they were drawing from at the time. The flawed logic at the time was that deep wells were safe. You need to make your own determination of risk which was why I asked about animal production in the area. The highly dangerous O157:H7 strain of E. coli does not normally exist in pasture grazed cattle, and is more prevalent on large production lots where they are grain fed.

    When it comes to UV systems, they need to be properly spec'd and meticulously maintained. If you have any turbidity, exceed the flow rate, or fail to maintain it, it is a false sense of security.

  11. #11
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    it is a false sense of security.
    Kind of like a public water system.

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