Well water testing - with the well water test you can test your own well water, quickly and inexpensively
Well over 90% of the UK population obtain their drinking water in what is probably the easiest way: from a water company. The companies are professionally operated and the quality of the water that ends up in the households closely monitored. However, more and more people are now turning to an alternative source: a private well. This draws from the same groundwater that flows into the public water supply. Well water has many advantages, but hygiene is an important element of well maintenance and monitoring.
A private well as an alternative to the water supplied by water companies
Because it is independent from the water companies' supply network and an effective alternative in the long run, a private well is an attractive option for households (especially in rural areas) as well as for farms, public institutions and other large-scale consumers of water. Even if the water supplied by water companies satisfies almost all private and commercial requirements, getting your drinking water this way does not always make sense in remote areas, whether it be for environmental, hygienic or technical reasons.
Well water is not necessarily drinking water - the presence of heavy metals and bacteria is not uncommon
The problem: from a microbiological and chemical point of view, the quality of drinking water drawn from a well is not necessarily equivalent to the quality prescribed in the regulations. To meet these standards, special water treatment plants are necessary. Water obtained from private wells can also contain contaminants which have made it into the water through the soil, and these contaminants need to be removed before the well water can become wholesome drinking water. Private wells are usually relatively shallow and don't have any protection zones. These are normally responsible for protecting the area around a waterwork from groundwater contamination, thus safeguarding the water supply. Privately, and on a smaller scale, measures like this are almost impossible. Therefore, well water testing is recommended.
You can find more information on well water analysis and private well water supplies here on our blog under the category well water.
Would you like to test your well water? The Well Water Test is carried out in an accredited water testing laboratory and examines the following parameters:
Drinking water is generally free of ammonium. However, ammonium can enter the groundwater through agricultural waste landfill leachate. The ammonium content of well water can indicate the cleanliness of the well water. It is unclear what effect ammonium in drinking water has on the health exactly. However, the statutory limit is set at 0.5 mg per litre because damage to the kidneys and central nervous system cannot be ruled out. Through certain processes, ammonium in water can also oxidise and to nitrite and then nitrate, which affects the oxygen saturation of the water. Ammonium can also pose a threat when it reacts to form toxic ammonia. This conversion is largely dependent on the ph value and temperature of the water. Ammonium is thus a classic parameter of all well water testing.
Iron is an essential trace element for the human body. It plays an important role in transporting oxygen in the blood. In the UK, the maximum concentration of iron in drinking water is set at 0.2 mg per litre, but it is only thought to pose a health risk when the daily dose exceeds 200mg per litre. Iron generally enters well water in two ways: the natural way, or through old iron pipes in water supply. When groundwater seeps through the various rock layers, iron particles can get into the water. Old pipes are a matter for house owners and well operators and they are often not recognised as a source of danger.
The total hardness of tap water is considered to be the total amount of minerals calcium and magnesium that is released into the water. The higher the calcium and magnesium content, the harder the water. The level of hardness is measured in mg per litre. Drinking water with low levels of hardness has comparatively less flavour. Well water and tap water with high levels of hardness have health benefits thanks to the high mineral content. However, this can also lead to faster scaling of household appliances like washing machines, dishwashers or coffee machines.
Calcium naturally occurs in all water. Together with magnesium, it is crucial for water hardness because it stabilises the pH value of the water. Calcium has a positive effect on bone formation. Indeed, studies on cardiovascular health show that in regions with comparatively high levels of calcium in the water, the risk of heart disease is lower. Nevertheless, increased water hardness is accompanied by higher levels of calcification, which is not ideal, particularly for household appliances.
Magnesium is present in all water and is one of the natural components of groundwater. The quantity of magnesium in drinking water in the UK is not high enough to have a positive effect on the body, particularly on the muscles. It is not detrimental to our health, but does contribute to water hardness along with calcium.
High levels of nitrite in well water can point to biological contamination, e.g. through the discharge of agricultural wastewater. Water which exhibits high nitrite levels should be avoided, above all by infants and young children. Ingesting high doses of can lead to what is known as blue baby syndrome in infants. While it is normally oxygen that is bound and transported in the blood, nitrate causes nitrogen molecules to bind instead. This inhibits the blood's capacity to transport oxygen and brings about a risk of suffocation. The Water Supply Regulations prescribe a maximum concentration of 0.5 mg per litre for nitrite.
High levels of nitrate in well water can point to contamination. Like nitrite, the intake of water with a high nitrate content should be avoided, especially by infants or people with weak immune systems. Nitrate can also be converted to nitrate and result in an insufficient oxygen supply in the body. The Water Supply Regulations prescibe a maximum concentration of 50mg of nitrate in drinking water.
Like iron, manganese is a naturally occurring element which is found in almost all well water. Even though it is an important trace element and is not considered toxic for humans, manganese is troublesome in water from a technical standpoint. Both iron and manganese leave deposits in the pipes which longterm, can cause a lot of damage. Similarly to iron, manganese rusts when it comes into contact with oxygen. A daily manganese intake of 2-4 grams is even recommended, but should not be exceeded on a longterm basis. The UK drinking water regulations stipulate a maximum concentration of 0.5 mg / l of manganese.
The pH value is measured to identify how many acids or other liquids are present in the water. It can be determined whether the liquid has acidic, basic or neutral values. For well water which is used as drinking water, a pH value of 7 is ideal. According to UK drinking water regulations, the pH should be within the range of 6.5 and 9.5, a rule which is always complied with by water companies. While a low pH value indicates acidity, a high value represents basic or alkaline conditions. The pH value is therefore an important component of a water analysis.
Electrical conductivity is an important indicator parameter.
The well water analysis includes a microbiological examination of your well water too:
There are various reasons for water contamination. When water is contaminated with coliform bacteria, it is mostly faecal contamination. These bacteria are particularly dangerous for eldery people, those with compromised immune systems, and babies and children. They can cause urinary tract infections, diarrhoea, vomiting, peritonitis and even meningitis in babies. Contrary to popular belief, low levels of coliform bacteria are not that harmful. However, en masse, these bacteria can significantly compromise the immune system, the initial symptom typically being diarrhoea. The Water Supply Regulations therefore specify a value of 0/100 ml for coliform bacteria. Contamination with coliform bacteria most frequently originates in the house or well.
Escherichia coll (E.coli)
The presence of E.coli bacteria in water is generally a sign of contamination. These bacteria are not often found in wells located in close proximity to agricultural areas because faecal contamination is the main cause of the presence of this bacteria. The upper limit prescribed for E.coli bacteria is also 0/100 ml. Common symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting.
A maximum value of 0/250ml is prescribed by UK drinking water regulations for enterococci. This is also a type of gut bacteria which is frequently responsible for pericarditis (inflammation of the fibrous sac around the heart) and urinary tract infections. Faecal contamination of the well water is often the cause.
If you have questions on our well water test kit or need more information about "well water testing", don't hesitate to get in touch with our IVARIO team. Go to contact form.