Protect Your Groundwater Day-NGWA TIPS September 6

Simple ways everyone can act to protect groundwater

Everyone can and should do something to protect groundwater. Why? We all have a stake in maintaining its quality and quantity

  • For starters, 99 percent of all available freshwater comes from aquifers underground. Being a good steward of groundwater just makes sense.
  • Not only that, most surface water bodies are connected to groundwater so how you impact groundwater matters.
  • Furthermore, many public water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater, so protecting the resource protects the public water supply and impacts treatment costs.
  • If you own a well to provide water for your family, farm, or business, groundwater protection is doubly important. As a well owner, you are the manager of your own water system. Protecting groundwater will help reduce risks to your water supply.
 Groundwater protection
 There are two fundamental categories of groundwater protection:
  • Keeping it safe from contamination
  • Using it wisely by not wasting it.
Before examining what you can do to protect groundwater, however, you should know that sometimes the quality and safety of groundwater is affected by substances that occur naturally in the environment.
 Naturally occurring contamination:
The chemistry of the groundwater flowing into a well reflects what’s in the environment. If the natural quality of groundwater to be used for human consumption presents a health risk, water treatment will be necessary.
Examples of naturally occurring substances that can present health risk are:
  • Microorganisms (i.e., bacteria, viruses, and parasites; these tend to be more common in shallow groundwater)
  • Radionuclides (i.e., radium, radon, and uranium)
  • Heavy metals (i.e., arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and selenium).
Public water systems are required to treat drinking water to federal quality standards. However, it is up to private well owners to make sure their water is safe.
Contamination caused by human activities:
Human activities can pollute groundwater, and this is where every person can help protect groundwater — both in terms of groundwater quality and quantity.
 Some common human causes of groundwater contamination are:
  • Improper storage or disposal of hazardous substances
  • Improper use of fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides
  • Chemical spills
  • Improperly built and/or maintained septic systems
  • Improperly abandoned wells (these include water wells, groundwater monitoring wells, and wells used in cleaning contaminated groundwater)
  • Poorly sited or constructed water wells.
 An emerging concern in recent years is the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. Much research remains to be done to assess the health risks of trace amounts of these items.
 ACT — acknowledge, consider, take action

 On Protect Your Groundwater Day, NGWA urges you to ACT. Use this day to begin doing your part for protecting one of our most important natural resources — groundwater

1. Acknowledge the causes of preventable groundwater contamination
  • Everyone
    • There are hazardous substances common to households
    • Most household water us occurs in a few areas around the home.
  • If you own  a water well
    • Wellheads should be a safe distance from potential contamination
    • Septic system malfunctions can pollute groundwater
    • Poorly constructed or maintained wells can facilitate contamination
    • Improperly abandoned wells can lead to groundwater contamination
 2. Consider which apply to you
  • Everyone
    • What specific hazardous substances are in and around your home?
    • Where do you and your family use the most water?
  • If you own  a water well
    • Is your wellhead a safe distance from possible contamination?
    • Is your well/septic system due for an inspection?
    • Are there any abandoned wells on your property?
3. Take action to prevent groundwater contamination
  • Everyone
    • When it comes to hazardous household substances:
    • Store them properly in a secure place
    • Use them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
    • Dispose of them safely.
    • When it comes to water conservation: Modify your water use
    • Install a water-saving device
  • If you own  a water well
    • Move possible contamination sources a safe distance from the wellhead
    • Get current on your septic system inspection and cleaning
    • Get your annual water well system inspection
    • Properly decommission any abandoned wells using a professional.

Lead Concern

The recent lead issues in Flint, MI have sparked many to  become concerned about their own wells and water supplies.  Here is some helpful information on lead:

Lead is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment. It is poisonous to humans and animals when consumed. Among other things, lead is commonly used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets, weights and as a radiation shield. It also has been used in various components in household plumbing and well systems.

According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the effects of lead are the same whether it enters the body through breathing or swallowing. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. The main target for lead toxicity is the nervous system, both in adults and children. Long-term exposure of adults can result in decreased performance in some tests that measure functions of the nervous system. It may also cause weakness in fingers, wrists, or ankles. Lead exposure also causes small increases in blood pressure, particularly in middle-aged and older people and can cause anemia. Exposure to high lead levels can severely damage the brain and kidneys in adults or children and ultimately death.  In pregnant women, high levels of exposure to lead may cause miscarriage.What Well Owners Need To KnowFortunately, for private well owners, the presence of lead in groundwater tends to be very small and almost undetectable.   A greater concern is the presence of lead in galvanized steel pipes, certain brass used in plumbing fixtures or well components, and certain solder used to connect pipes and joints.  Although the lead content allowed in these plumbing and well components has been greatly reduced—most recently in 2014—it can still be a health risk for houses and/or well systems that pre-date federally mandated lead content reductions.

No amount of lead is safe, according to the National Institute of Health Sciences.

Two factors that can affect how much lead leaches into the water are:

  1. The length of time water is in contact with lead before being used
  2. The corrosiveness of the water due to either high pH or low pH.

How To Correct The Issue

First, try to determine the source of the lead in your water. If the groundwater coming into the well is not the problem, a water well system contractor can inspect your well system for any components that contain higher lead levels. A plumber may be able to help in identifying the sources of lead in the household plumbing.If household plumbing or well system components are the source of unsafe levels of lead, the home owner has three basic options:

  • Replace the problem components with new components that meet current federal requirements.
  • Treat water that is being consumed with appropriate treatment technologies. The National Sanitation Foundation recommends the following:

“Potential treatment options for lead can include filters, reverse osmosis units, and distillers. Make sure the system is certified under NSF/ANSI standards for lead reduction, which means that the system has been independently verified to be able to reduce lead from 0.150 mg/L to 0.010 mg/L or less.

“If you have a private well and have high lead levels, the problem could be due to low pH. When pH levels drop below 7.0, water becomes acidic which can cause lead to leach from plumbing fixtures. Acid neutralizing systems are generally used to correct this situation. By adding a chemical like soda ash to the water to boost pH above 7.0, the system can help reduce both lead and copper leaching attributable to low pH.

“If you do choose to use a water treatment system, remember that most water treatment systems have replaceable components or require regular service, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and replace filters at the recommended interval.”

  • Flush water that has been sitting in your water system for a long time (such as overnight) to remove water into which lead has leached. You may need to take several water samples from different taps to determine how to effectively flush your system for the purpose of lead reduction in drinking water. Water that is being flushed can be used for purposes that do not involve ingestion.

 

 

TIME TO SCHEDULE YOUR ANNUAL WATER WELL CHECKUP

Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries seasonally, spring/summer is a good season to have an annual water well checkup before the peak water use season begins, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) and Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals (IAGP).

Why is it a good idea to have my water well checked annually?

An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem free service and quality water.  Also preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance — like good car maintenance — can prolong the life of your well and related equipment.  NGWA further recommends you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, appearance, or when the system is serviced.

Schedule you annual water well checkup

With well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order.  A check of your well by a qualified water well contractor may include:

  • A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding, and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact, and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).
  • A well equipment inspection to assure it’s sanitary and meets local and state code.
  • A test of your water for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern.

Helpful reminders for your well

  • Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.
  • Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.
  • Periodically check the well cover or well cap on the top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached.  Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.
  • Keep your well records in a safe place.  These include the construction report, annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.

Residential Well Drilling

drilling photo

Spring is coming!  If you are building a new home we can drill your well.  Contact us today.

Extreme cold causing water line freeze ups and piping freeze ups

frozen pipe closeupfrozen pipe

Due to the xtreme cold this year Prairie State Water Systems, has seen many water line freeze ups and piping freeze ups down the well. With the prolonged periods of cold and the polar vortex the frost has reached depths of 3′ to 4′ in some cases. This continual ground movement can crack water lines or freeze shallow buried water lines. So if you have no water or notice a high electric bill please call either of our 2 offices.

Another job well done from the crew at Prairie State

blog photo no water
Matt and Finley are working on a house in West Chicago where our customer was without water. This was due to a hole in the drop pipe where the steel had rotted holes down the well. The pump was set at 126′, we pulled it out of the ground. The original installation was in 1968. A new pump was installed along with wire and pipe to ensure many more years of reliable service for the homeowner. Another job well done from the crew at Prairie State!