Friday, April 20, 2018

Does Your Well Need a Checkup?

Drinking water...turn on a faucet and it appears.  We drink, cook and clean with it.  Most of us don’t even think about whether it’s safe.  However, having access to clean, potable drinking water is one of the most important contributions to our community’s overall health.  

More than 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water.  The US is fortunate to have some of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world. 

The water we use daily can come to us in two very different ways: 
1.      Community (public) water system or
2.      Private water source, such as a well. 

Public water systems are regulated and must adhere to strict standards.  Private water sources, such as wells, are not regulated; individual homeowners are responsible for keeping their water safe. Approximately 28% of Clinton County residents have a private water source. If you are part of that 28%, here is how you can make sure your water is safe:

  • Ensure your well casing extends above ground level to prevent flooding of the well head.

  • Maximize the distance between your well and sources of contamination, such as septic systems, manure storage piles and fuel oil tanks, if possible.

Testing your water is key to knowing if your water is safe to drink.  Total coliform bacteria is naturally present in the environment and is used to determine the sanitary condition of a well.  Although total coliform bacteria by itself doesn’t usually make you sick, its presence tells you that other harmful bacteria, such as E.Coli, might be able to get into your well water too.  If results are positive for coliform bacteria, the well should be properly disinfected and retested.  

During spring certain weather conditions – such as melting snow, heavy rains and flooding – increase the chances of contaminates getting in your private well, making Spring the perfect time to do a well water ‘checkup’. 

Just like maintenance on your car or your home’s roof, you should always ensure your water source is being properly maintained.  For more information visit For concerns or questions about your water quality, contact the CCHD’s Environmental Health & Safety Division at 518-565-4870. 

Tim Simonette
Senior Public Health Sanitarian