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5 Groundwater Contaminants to Test for in Georgia

Groundwater
Private wells are often the best option for rural property owners, but they need regular maintenance to ensure safe drinking water for your family. Without the right care, a number of bacteria and chemicals can find their way into private well systems.
If your well has been out of use for some time or you simply want peace of mind with each sip, consider testing for these five common groundwater contaminants in Georgia. 

1. Bacterial Infestations

Even healthy wells may contain some bacteria, but large populations of harmful organisms are a major cause for concern. Today, new wells are shock chlorinated after construction and during periodic maintenance to wipe out any growing bacterial colonies. Older or neglected wells, however, may spring leaks in their casing and allow bacteria in. 
Of these infestations, the most serious include E. coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Campylobacter. They are frequently associated with symptoms like diarrhea. Bacterial populations in your area are often localized. E. coli, for example, is most commonly found around cattle farms. Shock chlorinating your well and sealing any leaks in the casing should destroy an infestation. 

2. Metal Content

A small amount of metals in private well water is both normal and harmless. But certain metals at toxic concentrations can have an impact on your family's long-term health.
Perhaps the most notorious of these is lead, but other substances like copper can cause different problems. Copper runoff from agriculture can coat your plumbing, leading to eventual corrosion. In other cases, old and outdated pipes are to blame. 

3. Nitrate Levels

As an agricultural state, Georgia produces its fair share of nitrogen runoff. This extra nitrogen, primarily washed out of fertilizers, combines with chemicals in the soil to create nitrate. While nitrate is usually not a problem for water supplies, it can build up to unhealthy levels in wells, which is especially common after flooding.
If you live next to agricultural land, most notably livestock or poultry farms, you should consider testing your well's nitrate levels.
It is particularly dangerous for small children and pregnant women to consume high concentrations of nitrate for sustained periods. The natural body chemistry of infants converts nitrate into nitrite, a chemical that slowly deprives them of oxygen. A standard water filter using a method like reverse osmosis can remove nitrate from well water. 

4. Radon

Radon is best known as a heavy, radioactive gas that can pool in basements. It is a risk wherever soils contain high levels of uranium, which creates the gas as it breaks down. Radon seeps through soils, meaning it can work its way into both basements and wells. It is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, so it must be tested for to be caught. 
Homes in Northern Georgia are more likely to have radon issues than homes to the south. This is due to differences in the rock content of their soils. If you do discover radon in your drinking water, you may not need a new water source. Radon contamination in well water can be safely treated with an activated carbon filter, separating the larger radon element from the water molecules. 

5. Arsenic Levels

Arsenic is a natural substance produced in high concentrations by industries like mining and agriculture. Wells drilled into the clay soils of Georgia's Gulf Trough are at a heightened risk for arsenic in their groundwater. Regular testing and filtration as necessary is the only way to detect and remove arsenic in your well system. 
If all of these potential contaminants have you looking suspiciously at that glass of water, fret not. By following routing maintenance and repair work for your well, you can rest easy knowing your family is safe. Contact us at Brown & Cox today for information, resources, and a plan to bring your well into compliance with home safety standards.