Public Health News: Well Water Contamination Risk Increasing Due to Climate-Driven Flooding
Well water contamination risk is increasing due to climate-driven flooding. Heavy rains can overwhelm sewer systems and cause untreated sewage to contaminate well water. Flooding can also wash contaminants into well water from the surface.
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like floods. This means that well water contamination risks will likely increase in the future.
There are steps that well owners can take to reduce well water contamination risk. These include regular well water testing, installing a well water filter, and disinfecting well water if it is contaminated.
Why Are Water Wells Becoming Contaminated?
Well water is becoming contaminated for a number of reasons. Climate change is causing more extreme weather events, like floods. When it rains heavily, sewer systems can become overwhelmed and cause untreated sewage to contaminate well water. Flooding can also wash contaminants into well water from the surface.
Some areas that have experienced heightened well water contamination risk include:
- The Gulf Coast: Hurricane Harvey led to well water contamination in parts of Texas.
- Florida: Flooding from Hurricane Irma caused well water contamination in some areas of Florida.
- North Carolina: Flooding from Hurricane Florence led to well water contamination in some areas of North Carolina.
When water rises due to flooding, it can carry contaminants with it. These contaminants can come from a number of sources, including:
- Sewage: When sewage systems overflow, untreated sewage can contaminate well water.
- Animal waste: Floodwaters can wash animal waste into well water, contaminating it.
- Chemicals: Floodwaters can also pick up and carry chemical pollutants from factories, farms, and other sites.
Common Water Well Contaminants
One of the most common contaminants found in well water is e.coli. E. coli is a type of bacteria that is found in the environment, and it can cause serious illness in humans. Symptoms of E. coli infection include diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.
E. coli might affect well waters after heavy rains due to sewage overflows. It is also naturally found in animals, so well water can become contaminated if floodwaters wash animal waste into it.
Another common contaminant is lead. Lead can enter well water from old pipes or fixtures. It can also be found in the soil near a well. When flooding occurs, lead can be carried into well water from the surface.
Lead exposure can cause a number of health problems, including learning difficulties and behavior problems in children. It can also cause high blood pressure and kidney damage in adults.
What are the Risks of Contaminated Well Water?
Contaminated well water can cause a number of health problems. Some of the most common illnesses associated with well water contamination include:
- Gastrointestinal illness
- Respiratory illness
- Skin infections
- Eye infections
In addition to these short-term health problems, there are also long-term health problems associated with contaminated water wells. Long-term well water contamination risk includes:
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Well water contamination is a serious problem that can lead to a number of health problems. It is important for well owners to take steps to reduce well water contamination risk. These steps include regular well water testing, installing a well water filter, and disinfecting well water if it is contaminated.
Sadly, it isn’t just adults that are at risk from well water contamination. Children and infants are especially vulnerable to the effects of contaminated well water. This is because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
In addition, many homeowners rely on shallow well pump systems. These well pumps are often located near the contaminated water source. This means that there is a greater risk of well water contamination if these systems are not properly maintained. It’s best to get help from plumbers or well water treatment specialists to ensure that these systems are properly maintained.
What Do I Do If I’m Sick From Contaminated Well Water?
If you think you might have been sickened by contaminated well water, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Be sure to tell your doctor about any exposure you may have had to contaminated well water.
Your doctor will likely want to run some tests to confirm that you are ill from well water contamination. These tests might include a stool sample or a blood test. Once your doctor has confirmed that you are ill from well water contamination, they will likely prescribe antibiotics.
In some cases, well water contamination can be very serious. If you have any concerns about your well water, it’s best to contact a well water treatment specialist. These specialists can test your well water and recommend the best course of treatment.
If you are unable to seek medical care or have mobility issues, a medical equipment supplier can often provide you with equipment to help you monitor your health and recover from contamination.
While many people might recover from well water contamination without any long-term effects, it’s important to be aware of the risks and stop drinking contaminated water as soon as possible.
What Can Well Owners Do to Reduce Contamination Risk?
There are a number of steps that well owners can take to reduce well water contamination risk. These steps include the following.
Regular Well Water Testing
Regular testing will help to identify any potential well water contamination problems early. If you’re unsure of how to test for well water contamination risk, it’s best to get the help of a residential plumber or well water treatment specialist. Sadly, many homeowners don’t take the time to test their water, which can lead to serious well water contamination problems. In addition, many homeowners believe that because the water they’re using comes from a well, it must be safe. However, this isn’t always the case.
Installing a Well Water Filter
Water filter installation can help to remove contaminants from well water. In addition, ceramic water filtration membrane technology can be used to remove bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants from well water. Other filters include activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis systems, and ultraviolet light systems. While these filters are an investment, they can help to protect your family from well water contamination.
Disinfecting Well Water
If well water is contaminated, it can be disinfected using chlorine or ultraviolet light. Many homeowners might be concerned about using chlorine to disinfect well water. However, if well water is contaminated with bacteria or viruses, it’s important to disinfect it to avoid the spread of illness. If you need additional help disinfection water, plumbing services can be hired to assist you.
Don’t Drink Water Soon After Inclement Weather
Inclement weather, such as flooding, can lead to well water contamination. As a result, it’s important to avoid drinking well water immediately after a storm. In addition, well owners should avoid using well water for cooking or bathing for at least 48 hours after a storm. Waiting to use water until after it is tested will help to reduce the risk of well water contamination.
If you are in an emergency, boiling water for at least one minute can help to kill bacteria and viruses. However, well water should only be boiled as a last resort.
Monitoring Well Water Quality
Homeowners should also be sure to monitor well water quality on a regular basis. This can be done using a home test kit or by hiring a professional well water testing service. You should test your water even if there hasn’t been inclement weather. While ground water is typically safe, well water can become contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, or other pollutants.
If you notice any changes in well water quality, it’s important to seek professional help. A well water treatment specialist can often help to identify the source of contamination and recommend the best course of action.
Take Note of Changes in Taste or Quality
If you notice any changes in well water quality, it’s important to take note. Changes in taste, smell, or appearance can all be indicative of well water contamination. If you notice any changes, it’s best to stop using the water immediately and contact a professional water testing specialist. A plumber can also help to check for well water contamination or determine if your water quality change is due to another issue, such as a problem with your well pump.
Be Prepared for Power Outages
If you live in an area that’s prone to power outages, it’s important to be prepared. During a power outage, well water pumps won’t be able to operate. As a result, you won’t have access to clean, safe water.
To prepare for a power outage, it’s important to have a backup plan in place. This might include filling up jugs of water or investing in a generator. If you have a well water filter, you should also make sure that you have enough replacement filters on hand. Water pump service can also help your well running again.
Do All Homeowners Use Water Wells?
Not all homeowners get their water from wells. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 15 percent of households in the United States use well water. In some areas, such as rural communities, the percentage of households with well water is much higher.
Well water can be a great source of clean, fresh water. However, well water can also be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. This is especially true after a flood.
Floodwaters can carry all sorts of contaminants into well water. These include sewage, chemical pollutants, and debris. Floodwaters can also cause a shallow well pump fail, which can lead to contamination.
How Do I Know If My Home Uses Water Wells?
If you are not sure if your home uses well water, there are a few ways to find out. One way is to look at your water bill. If it says “well water” or “private water source,” then you probably have a well. You can also check with your local health department or water utility to see if they have records of well water users in your area.
Another way to tell if you have a well is to look for a wellhead. This is the pipe that brings water up from the well and into your home. The wellhead is usually located above ground, near your home’s water supply.
If you think you have a well, it is important to have it tested regularly for contaminants. You should also have a well water filter installed to remove any contaminants that may be in your water.
Encouraging Regulation for Water Well Owners
With so many inclement weather events posing a bigger well water contamination risk, it’s a good idea to encourage well water regulation. In some areas, well water isn’t regulated as closely as public water sources. This means that well owners may not be following best practices for well water safety.
One way to encourage well water regulation is to contact your local representatives and let them know that you’re concerned about well water contamination. You can also join a well water association or group to help spread the word about well water safety.
As a homeowners, regulate yourself by staying well-informed about well water contamination risks and taking steps to protect your well water.
How to Install a Water Well Safely in Your Home
Installing a water well safely can help reduce water well contamination risk. Here are a few tips for installing a water well:
- Follow all local, state, and federal regulations for well installation.
- Have your well inspected by a qualified professional before using it.
- Install a well cap to keep out surface water and debris.
- Regularly test your well water for contaminants.
- Use a well water filter to remove contaminants from your water.
Well drillers, well pump installers, and well water treatment professionals can all help you install a water well safely in your home. It’s never a good idea to install a well on your own, so be sure to hire a professional if you’re thinking about getting a well.
Climate-driven flooding is increasing well water contamination risk. Homeowners who use well water should take steps to protect their water supply, such as having their well water tested regularly and investing in a well water filter. Homeowners can also encourage well water regulation by contacting their local representatives. Finally, it’s always important to hire a professional when installing a well in your home. Use these tips outlined above to help keep your well water clean and safe for your family.