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Testing your water well!

Today’s posting written by Gary L. Hawkins and Martin Wunderly

As part of National Groundwater Awareness Week, today we would like to discuss well water testing. If your water is from a municipal water system, the providers are required to conduct routine testing; however, if you are a homeowner and have a well, it is your responsibility to test your well water.  Contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office (1-800-ASK- UGA1, this number will connect you to the UGA County Extension Office where your phone is registered) to obtain well water test information and materials. Additional information on well water testing can be found on the UGA Extension publications “Testing for Water Quality” (Circular 858-2) and “Water Quality and Common Treatments for Private Drinking Water Systems” (Bulletin 939). 

Below are some situations in which you should get your well water tested for safe clean drinking water requirements.

When to Test Your Well Water…

  • When a new well is installed
  • If it hasn’t been tested in more than 1 year
  • Someone consistently complains of gastrointestinal problems
  • There is a pregnancy in the family
  • Infants and/or elderly live there
  • There are noticeable differences in water following heavy rains
  • A fertilizer/pesticide/fuel spill within 500’
  • Neighbors have problems with their well water
  • After flood waters cover your well head or pad
These images show the collection of a home water sample from the faucet for bacteria analysis. Additional steps are explained when you pick up the specialized sample bottle from your County Extension office.

The above listed times when well water should be tested are good suggestions.  It is also suggested that you test your well water annually, typically in the Spring.  The recommendation for routine well water tests are:

  • Year 1 (initially) – A W2 (Georgia Expanded Water Test) and a W35 (Total Coliform / E. coli test)
  • Year 2 – W1 (Basic Water Test) and W35 (Bacterial)
  • Year 3 – W1 (Basic Water Test) and W35 (Bacterial)
  • Year 4 – Repeat cycle with A W2 (Expanded Water Test) and a W35 (Total Coliform / E. coli test)

This rotation will provide information that will assist in knowing what the water quality of your well water is and will allow you and your Extension Agent to see any trends that maybe occurring over time.  However, as mentioned above, if you notice anything out of the ordinary with the well water, contact your UGA Extension Agent to determine what might be the best tests to run to assist in finding a cause and solution.

The water samples collected and processed by the UGA Extension Agents, are sent to the UGA CAES Agricultural and Environmental Services Lab in Athens, Georgia.

Today we concentrated on testing well water.  If you have additional questions about your well water please see your local UGA County Extension Agent.  They can be reached at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or doing an internet search for UGA Extension [Your County].

4-H/Youth Activities

As an activity for 4-H/Youth related to water quality, there is a project on Education.com that explores Testing Hard Water.  Hardness is one of the components of both the W1 and W2 water quality tests mentioned above as part of the water sampling rotation.

Family and Consumer Sciences

Water quality has important health implications in a home.  The one we mostly think of is bacteria which would be tested by the W35 test.  Testing the well water could also provide information on the concentrations of the other minerals by running the W1 or W2 tests or other specific tests. 

Today we discussed testing your well water for determining what is in the water and using annual water tests to provide a record of what is in the water to determine any trends that may or may not be occurring over time.  If you are interested in testing your groundwater, see your UGA County Extension Agent to get the proper bottles and procedures for collecting samples and finding out more about what is needed for testing.  To locate the office, call 1-800-ASK-UGA1 to be connected to the UGA Extension office in the County your phone is registered. To see all available tests that can be run at the AESL, please see your local UGA County Extension office or the AESL Fee Schedule for water.

Tomorrow we will discuss 4-H and Water Activities.

#UGAWater, #UGAExtension