Groundwater is a vital resource to each of us – individuals, communities and our businesses. It’s the water we drink, it grows our food and recharges rivers and lakes. It’s so very important to do your part at your home with your private well and help keep it clean!
As you may know, groundwater is water found underground in cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. These underground stores of water are called aquifers. Groundwater is critically important to daily living. Of all the Earth’s water that is readily available for use by humans, 98 percent is groundwater and over half of the population relies on groundwater for drinking water, including nearly all of the country’s rural residents.
Most people don’t realize the impact they can have on groundwater. Anything poured or spilled onto the ground’s surface can end up in the groundwater supply, even years later, and contaminated groundwater can ruin human and animal health, while overuse can lead to shortages in the water supply.
In that same manner it’s important to keep your well maintained. Although there are no laws or regulations that require private well owners to test their well water annually, there are many good reasons to do so including:
* Ensure a safe and reliable source of drinking water.
* Identify existing problems which may or may not change the smell, or the taste of your water.
* Track changes over time.
* When loaning money to a property buyer, mortgage lenders often require that well water be tested for contaminants.
What can you do as an individual to maintain your private well and protect your drinking water?
* Learn about the most common water quality problems affecting wells in your area. Consult your local health department or Natural Resources District for more information.
* Store and mix fertilizers and pesticides on a surface that can’t be penetrated and ensure any spillage cannot reach the area around your well.
* Do not apply fertilizers and pesticides within 10 feet of your well to keep it from becoming contaminated.
* Find out more about your well – when it was constructed, if it meets current standards, what kind of casing was used, etc.
* Keep a record of information about your well. Update these records as information changes.
* And, of course, regularly test your well water. Contact your local health department or the Nebraska Health and Human Services Drinking Water Program or UNL Extension to find out what tests should be done, request a test kit and answer your private well questions.
Every individual has a responsibility to protect groundwater, because every individual is impacted daily by the quality and quantity available.
Written by Brian Reetz with the Nebraska Groundwater Foundation. The Groundwater Foundation (GWF) is a nonprofit organization that educates people and inspires action to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations.