Water Filtration Systems Information
Approximately 23 million people in the U.S. get their water directly
from private wells, many without water filtration systems . Most wells tap an underground
aquifer. Although the aquifer appears protected from sources of contamination, it
can become polluted from industrial spills, underground fuel tank leaks, fertilizer, or
wastes that seep into the ground. Ground sources can migrate several miles, which means
your well may be contaminated by an industrial facility or farm miles "up
gradient" from your home. Also consider contaminants from local lake
water. Wells are also susceptible to sediment contamination, so
the water in your home may appear discolored or "dirty." Even public
treatment plants are not 100% effective.
For this reason, you should have your well tested annually. To have
it tested, call a local analysis laboratory. Lists of laboratories certified by your state
or EPA may be available from your state or local health department. Some local health
departments also test private wells for free.
Tests for contaminants such as nitrate and coliform bacteria
performed by a private laboratory usually cost between $10 and $20. Cost increases if you
ask the laboratory to test for other contaminants. Once the laboratory performs the tests,
it will mail you the results. You can compare the results to EPA's National Primary
Drinking Standards and National Secondary Drinking Standards to find out if your source
falls below levels EPA thinks are safe for certain contaminants.
A note of caution: a test will only tell you what is in the source
that day. Public treatment plant failures can occur intermittently, and pollutants can be
present in your water after these failures or after other events (e.g., after farm
fertilizing periods, heavy rains, or season changes).
People who use public sources are not immune from problems either.
Everyone should consider filtering what comes into your home.
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