By Justin Fellenbaum, Extension Coordinator University of Georgia
Is your well-water tasting funny? Does it smell weird? Does it have a funny color? If you answered yes, you may consider testing your water. A good rule of thumb is to test your well each year at a certain time of year. I suggest performing these tests in the spring. UGA recommends testing your water as a maintenance method in the following schedule-
• Bacteria Test- Annually
• Comprehensive Water Chemistry- Initially and then every three years
• Basic Chemistry- Annually after the initial comprehensive water chemistry
• Radon- At least once
• Lead/Copper if you have lead or copper pipes- Annually
A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) survey in 2009 revealed that:
• One out of five private wells contained one or more contaminants at concentrations exceeding the EPA human health benchmarks.
• Approximately 50% of all wells had at least one problem.
• Approximately 33% of all wells had microbial/bacterial contaminants.
Usually speaking, water testing is broken into Bacteriological, mineral, organic chemicals, and other tests.
• Bacteriological tests generally check for indicator bacteria (for example, total coliform, fecal coliform, or Escherichia coli) and can indicate the presence or absence of disease-causing bacteria. However, there are many types of bacteriological tests that cover a variety of bacteria.
• Mineral tests can determine if the mineral content of your water is high enough to affect either your health or the aesthetic and cleaning capacities of your water. A mineral test may include calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, and some others. An abundance of these minerals can cause hard water, plumbing, and laundry stains, or bad odors.
• Organic chemical tests are generally performed only if there is reason to believe a specific contaminant has infiltrated the water system (such as pesticides entering the water supply). Industrial and petroleum contamination can also be found through organic chemical testing.
• Other tests may be conducted on radiological contaminants (radium and radon) or heavy metals (such as arsenic, mercury, lead or cadmium) based on the suspected natural and anthropogenic (man-made) sources of such contaminants.
If the following situations or concerns apply to you, consider testing for the issue. If you are unsure the Pickens County Extension Office would be glad to help walk you through it.
Please feel free to contact the Pickens County Extension Office at 706-253-8840.