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Is Your Well Water Safe?. by Bob Schultheis Agricultural Engineering Specialist. Missouri Water Supply Statistics. 890,000 Missourians on private water supplies 86% on drilled wells 300,000-350,000 active wells 10,000-20,000 new wells drilled annually

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Is your well water safe

Is Your Well Water Safe?

by

Bob SchultheisAgricultural Engineering Specialist


Missouri water supply statistics
MissouriWater Supply Statistics

  • 890,000 Missourians on private water supplies

  • 86% on drilled wells

  • 300,000-350,000 active wells

  • 10,000-20,000 new wells drilled annually

  • One abandoned well or cistern for every80 acres of land (DNR estimate)

    • Webster Co. = 4,700+ wells over 379,000 ac.


What is coliform
What is Coliform?

  • Coliform bacteria are used as indicator organisms to test for contamination of drinking water.

    • >1 coliform = “Unsatisfactory” in DOH tests

  • E. coli is a member of the coliform family and is commonly found in raw sewage.

  • E. coli is responsible for manyhealth-threatening diseases.


Coliform associated diseases
Coliform-Associated Diseases

  • Cholera

  • Typhoid

  • Salmonella

  • Shigella

  • Staphylococcus

  • Hepatitis A, B, C

  • Polio

  • Viral Gastroenteritis


1994 coliform detection study
1994 Coliform Detection Study

  • May to Nov. 1994 well survey

  • 9 states- Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska,North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

  • 41.3% tested positive

  • E. coli detects averaged 11.1%

  • Missouri E. coli detects - highest at 22.6%


Sampling results private wells

3

4

2

5

1

6

Sampling ResultsPrivate Wells


Factors contributing to coliform detects
Factors Contributing to Coliform Detects

  • Improperly constructed wells

  • Poorly maintained wells

  • Ineffective on-site sewage systems

  • Proximity to livestock feeding operations

  • Karst geologic formations


Nitrates
Nitrates

  • Nitrate detects are relatively low although not uncommon. (up to 16% of samples)

    • >10 ppm NO3-N = “Unsatisfactory”

  • Sources

    • Livestock facilities (esp. abandoned ones)

    • N & P fertilizer in excess of crop removal capability

    • Failing septic systems


D o h water quality survey august 1999
D.O.H. Water Quality SurveyAugust 1999

  • Webster County“gridded” for random sampling

  • 61 participants


D o h water quality survey august 1999 results webster county

Private wellstesting positive for coliform bacteria

Sewage systemswith open discharge& surfacing effluent

28%

44%

D.O.H. Water Quality SurveyAugust 1999 Results - Webster County


Soils in webster county
Soils in Webster County

  • 79% rated “severe” for pollution potential

  • 21% rated “moderate”

  • 0% rated “slight”

“Losing” stream




Ways to reduce well contamination 1
Ways to Reduce Well Contamination 1

  • Soil blanket (5+ feet thick) is good filter

  • Elevation = keep above pollution sources

  • Distance = 200+ feet horiz. separation

  • Grout well with neat-cement or bentonite clay by state-certified well driller

  • Use approved sanitary well cap

  • Rehab. poorly constructed wells


Ways to reduce well contamination 2
Ways to ReduceWell Contamination 2

  • Plug abandoned wells & cisterns

  • Repair/move/replace failing septic systems

  • Apply fertilizer & animal manure according to soil test & manure test

  • Repair/upgrade animal waste facilities

  • Install containment for fuels & pesticides


Ways to reduce well contamination 3
Ways to ReduceWell Contamination 3

  • Don’t dump anything into sinkholes

  • Use grass buffer strips (50+ feet wide)as filters around sinkholes

  • Promote community awareness of risk

  • Shock-chlorinate active wells after anyplumbing repairs


Shock chlorinating your 6 inch diameter well 1

Older wells

Newer wells

Shock-Chlorinating Your6-inch Diameter Well 1

  • Remove well cap or unscrew vent pipe


Shock chlorinating your 6 inch diameter well 2
Shock-Chlorinating Your6-inch Diameter Well 2

  • Mix chlorine & water inbucket. Pour into well

    • Liquid bleach @ 1 pintper 25’ of water depth, or

    • Chlorine tablets @ 0.5 lb.per 150’ of water depth

  • Circulate water back down well

  • Load chlorinated water intoplumbing system


Shock chlorinating your 6 inch diameter well 3
Shock-Chlorinating Your6-inch Diameter Well 3

  • Let chlorine water stand insystem at least 12 hours

  • Flush system with water,starting outside

  • Retest for bacteria after 7-10 days

    • $10 cost; DOH has sterile sample bottle

    • Keep sample cool & dark, get to lab in 6 hours

  • Keep test results with important papers


University information guides available
University InformationGuides Available

  • WQ100 Water Testing: What to Test For

  • WQ101 Understanding Your Water Test Report

  • WQ102 Bacteria in Drinking Water

  • WQ103 Nitrate in Drinking Water

  • WQ104 Understanding Home Water Treatment Systems


Questions
Questions???

Robert A. (Bob) Schultheis

Agricultural Engineering Specialist

Webster County Extension Center

800 S. Marshall, P.O. Box 7

Marshfield, MO 65706-0007

Voice: 417-859-2044

Fax: 417-468-2086

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: http://outreach.missouri.edu/webster


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