DEP takes a look at water well maintenance

Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a webinar as part of their new DEP@Home series. We posted a brief preview of the Water Wellness webinar that was aimed to better educate landowners on proper maintenance of water wells and how to identify potential problems.

The discussion was led by Brian Swistock, a Water Resources Specialist from Penn State Extension and specifically the Master Well Owners Network.

A large portion of this webinar was how to maintain drilled water wells so that they can continue to flow clean, uncontaminated water to over a million homes and farms across the Commonwealth. One of his concerns was that Pennsylvania is one of the very few states that do NOT have state regulations regarding the construction of private water wells. At most, few counties do have ordinances in place, but that’s the extent of the regulation.

Here is a brief overview of what Brian covered:

  • Location of a well is just as important as the actual construction of it. Location is key because there are so many factors that could be hazardous to effective water wells. The well needs to be at least 100 ft away from a septic tank with a 100 ft radius well head protection zone (clear area) if possible. Landowners also need to be away from any uphill activities that could lead to contaminated water flowing downhill and entering the well water.
  • Maintenance is a key issue with water wells – just because it appears everything is working properly, it does not mean you can skip regularly checking for any possible problems. When checking the well, make sure the area around the well is clean so that nothing can crush the pipes or leak contaminants into the water. You also need to be checking for any cracks, holes, corrosion or land depressions. To make sure all the problems are being addressed and nothing is missed, it’s recommended that a qualified professional comes and looks at your well every 10 years.
  • Water testing is such an important piece of information because sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are aesthetic or naturally occurring issues. Landowners should get water wells tested every 14 months.Many pollutants are not easily noticed which is why it’s important for the water to be tested regularly at a state-accredited lab.
    • Some examples of natural pollutants are iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide gas, and copper. There can also be things such as bacteria, lead, nitrates, pesticides, and arsenic that can be extremely detrimental to a person’s health.
  • Water treatment systems may be required to bring the levels of pollutants down to a safe level for human consumption. [We will cover this topic more in a future blog post]

Mr. Swistock covers some of the most important aspects of owning & caring for a water well. You can listen to the full Water Wellness webinar & view Brian’s presentation by visiting the DEP @Home website.

You can also visit the DEP’s website for general information on private wells and other great sources to help answer any additional questions.

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