Do you know where your household water comes from? Safe drinking water is something many people take for granted. But if that supply is affected, it can quickly disrupt your life and your health.
If your drinking water comes from a private well, then you are drawing from ground water reserves. Groundwater is naturally filtered by layers of porous rock and dirt, but it is susceptible to pollution and certain natural disruptions.
The most common problem in private well water is bacteria resulting from human or animal wastes. Some of these bacteria can cause stomach upset or diarrhea.
Additionally, man-made chemicals such as gasoline, solvents and pesticides can seep into groundwater and pose a risk to health. Natural chemicals like arsenic, manganese, iron, and radon can also affect well water.
The following tips from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are suggested for homeowners with private wells.
If your drinking water is supplied by local government, they are responsible for treating and testing water to U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standards and state regulations.
However, residents share in the responsibility of protecting the regional water quality.
There are more than 170,000 public water systems in the United States, delivering more than 1 billion glasses of tap water to consumers daily, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection agency.
Relatively speaking, disruptions to safe water supply are few, but they do happen as the result of breakages, industrial spills and other accidents. As a result, it’s important to listen to and trust your local water authorities.
When an event occurs, follow their instructions carefully for running faucets to clear lines or boiling water to ensure safety from bacteria. Water should be boiled vigorously for at least one minute to ensure safety, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Safe water should be used for drinking, cooking, making baby formula, coffee, juices, other beverages or ice. It also should be used for washing fruits and vegetables, bathing infants, washing open wounds, brushing teeth, watering pets and rinsing dishes.
Lastly, get informed about your community’s ongoing water issues, including conservation needs, pollution threats and infrastructure upgrades. Municipalities are required to issue annual Consumer Confidence Reports with detailed information about the quality of drinking water supply during the past year. At first glance, the reports look somewhat complicated, but with a few minutes of study they are relatively simple to understand.
Photo credit: TF28 via Flickr