On-site water wells should be tested to ensure that the water is both safe to drink and that it meets the applicable standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. There are two basic water tests:
Bacteriological Water Test
The bacteriological water test is used to determine if the water is safe to drink by testing for the presence of coliform bacteria.
The presence of coliform bacteria is an indication that other harmful bacteria may be present. If any of the many species of coliform bacteria are detected, additional testing is done to determine if fecal coliform bacteria is present. Fecal coliform bacteria is present in human waste, and its presence may indicate that the well is being contaminated by a nearby on-site septic system.
Water wells contaminated with bacteria can usually be made safe to use by disinfecting the water with chlorine or an ultraviolet treatment system.
Chemical Water Test
The standard chemical water analysis is used to determine the levels of the following contaminants:
- Total Iron
- Nitrate N as NO3
- N Nitrate
- N Nitrite
- Total Solids
|Contaminant||Potential Effect||Possible Remedy|
|Nitrate or Nitrite||Can cause Blue Baby Syndrome in children under six months of age||Reverse Osmosis, anion exchange resin.|
|pH||Bitter, metallic taste, corrosion||Acid neutralizer or chemical feed pump|
|Hardness||Scale formation, increased soap consumption, deposits on skin & hair||Water softener|
|Iron or Manganese||Off-colored water, metallic taste, red, black or orange stains||Water softener & sediment filter, or oxidizing filter|
|Total Solids||Hardness, deposits, colored water, staining, saltiness||Reverse osmosis|
|Corrosivity||Metallic taste, corrosion, stained fixtures||Acid neutralizer|
|Lead||Mental or physical development delays in children, kidney problems & high blood pressure in adults||Reverse osmosis, carbon filter, mixed bed de-ionizer, water softener.|
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