No one wants to drink bacteria, nitrates or toxic chemicals. So don’t let these nasties find their way into the groundwater that you and your neighbors depend on.
Check your property for these common sources of contamination:
- Abandoned wells and well pits
- Yard or farm water hydrants
- Septic systems
- Manure and fertilizers
- Hazardous materials
- Fuel storage tanks
Your well creates a direct route to the groundwater below, so make sure you keep it in good shape. A rusted casing, broken seal or rotting well cap allows surface water — and anything it contains — to flow into your aquifer.
Location, location, location! To safeguard your groundwater, install your well far away from sources of contamination, like fuel storage tanks or septic systems.
Abandoned wells and well pits
Just like working wells, unused wells can contribute to groundwater contamination. If you have wells on your property that you’re not using, decommission them properly.
The same is true for well pits. In the past, people often installed their wells in pits to protect them from frost. However, these pits provide a place where contaminated water can collect and seep into your well. If you have a well pit, consider replacing it with a pitless adaptor, and properly fill any well pits you no longer use.
Yard or farm water hydrants
Frost-free water hydrants are a great invention, offering an outdoor water supply that won’t freeze in the winter. However, never locate a hydrant in a well casing or pit. If you have a water hydrant, make sure you keep an air gap between the end of the hose and the water surface to prevent contaminants from accidentally getting siphoned back into your well. Even better, install a backflow prevention device.
A septic system that is poorly designed, located or maintained can leach bacteria, household chemicals and other unpleasant things into your groundwater. Make sure that your septic system isn’t located too close to your well, and pump it out every two to four years.
Manure and fertilizers
Yes, you can have too much of a good thing! If you use too much manure or fertilizer to grow your crops, nitrates and bacteria can leach into the groundwater underneath. When you store manure, make sure you follow best practices to prevent runoff from contaminating the water you drink.
Hazardous materials and drinking water don’t mix. Never keep paints, oils, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals in a building that also contains a well or pumping equipment.
Fuel storage tanks
If you store oil, propane or gasoline on your property, make sure that the fuel cannot leak into the groundwater. Monitor your fuel tanks for leakage and if you do spot a spill, clean it up immediately.
Never fill pesticide sprayers near a well. Store pesticides safely away from your well, where there’s no danger of any runoff reaching your groundwater. Before you apply pesticides to your crops, do your research. High water tables and highly absorbent soils increase the risk of pesticides percolating into your aquifer. Minimize the volume of pesticides you use, and keep an eye on the weather report — don’t apply pesticides before a big rainstorm.
All of these measures are relatively simple to take, but can have a huge impact on your contribution to groundwater protection – which benefits everyone – including you.