What You Need To Know About Private Drinking Water
Don't just wish for safe water - Test for it!
The Knox County SWCD is a holding
place along with Farm Bureau for the Knox County Health Department’s water sampling bottles. Bottles to test for Coliform
are $20.00. Checks can be made payable to the Health Department.
EPA Citizen’s Bulletin
Groundwater is the source of fresh water for households with private and public
wells. However, it can become contaminated by bacteria, manmade chemicals and naturally occurring elements. Drinking water
is much cleaner and safer today than in the past, but the only way to ensure that your well water is safe is to test it. This
is especially important for wells located near current or former commercial or industrial areas, gas stations or agricultural
In recent years, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been found in groundwater
in many areas of the state where there is a history of commercial and industrial development. These facilities include dry
cleaners, auto repair shops, printing shops, and the metal fabrication industry that have previously used solvents. In addition,
gas stations, other storage tanks (above ground and underground) and spills can lead to gasoline related chemicals and fuels
that have the potential to reach groundwater supplies. Handling of these chemicals was not regulated in the past and often
dumped or spilled on the ground sometimes causing groundwater contamination.
VOCs are often unrecognizable and can cause adverse health effects. Therefore,
the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health encourage the estimated 400,000
Illinois households served by their own private drinking
water wells to get them tested for potential contamination. As you know, clean, healthy drinking water is essential for good
health. If you drink private well water, make sure it’s safe for you and your family.
The agencies recommend an annual test for coliform bacteria and nitrate. The
presence of bacteria in well water indicates contamination by human or animal wastes that can cause infectious diseases. Nitrate
contamination is usually caused by faulty septic systems or agricultural leaching and is especially dangerous for infants.
Bacteria and nitrate testing is offered by most local health departments for a nominal fee. Also, it is highly recommended
that you test for VOCs if you live in an urban or suburban area with business, industry or gas stations nearby. Wells in rural
areas that may be affected by leaking fuel tanks should also test for VOCs. A list of laboratories accredited to analyze water
samples for VOCs can be found on the Illinois Well Water web page.
It is also important to be aware of other potential contaminates, such as
lead, organics, metals, herbicides and pesticides. Considering that contamination issues can be partly based on where you
live, you should consult your local health department for recommendations on private well water testing. The private well water web site also provides information and resources that will help you maintain safe drinking
water in your well. It includes information on testing and interpreting test results, treating contaminated well water, maintaining
wells and septic systems, constructing wells, as well as links for additional information. Protect your investment in a quality
water supply through regular inspection, testing and repair or treatment.