With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

Most people receive their water from a public water supplier, but a significant minority have a private well for their homes. The responsibility for the quality and condition of private well water ultimately rests on the shoulders of the homeowner. Access to clean drinking water is essential for health and if the water is contaminated, it can be a real threat to the entire family. Waterborne diseases and a wide variety of contaminants can represent a significant threat if ignored. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the issues related to well water, contamination and safety for your home.

The Vulnerability of Well Water

It’s a common misconception that well water is naturally healthy because it’s received directly from the source. But, this is simply not true, even if the source of the water is located in an underground aquifer, it can still contain contaminants that may be harmful. Private well water is especially vulnerable to changes in local environmental conditions that can affect the water quality. Some prime examples would include: shifting earth, local construction projects, industrial and agricultural activity and many more.

Given these potential risks, it may seem that a private well is not a reliable source of water for a home, but this is not true. Of course, there are risks of bacterial contamination and there are a number of areas where things can go wrong. Private well water is not examined or treated in the same manner as public drinking water and this can be a cause of concern for homeowners new to using well water. But, it is possible to filter your own water and remove any harmful contaminants without any external assistance. In fact, if you set up your own filtration system it’s possible to have better water quality than most public water users that don’t have access to filtered water.

The Importance of Water Testing

If you want to install a water filtration system, it’s important to learn more about the makeup of your well water. When you understand which contaminants you need to remove it’s easier to choose a filtration system that meets your needs. You can find water testing kits at your local big box store, but they are not fit for the purpose. Home water testing kits tend to be too vague and you don’t want to waste money on equipment you may not need. For this reason, we advise you to get a laboratory water test which will be far more accurate. Water testing should be an ongoing process and an annual test is the bare minimum. Remember that well water conditions can change due to activity in your area and you may need to adjust your water filtration strategy to compensate. If you want to arrange a water test or an inspection of your private well, contact your local water treatment specialist today.

Naturally Occurring Bacteria

A recent study showed that well water that appears to be clean and clear of contaminants can still contain a large volume of bacteria. This is naturally occurring bacteria that creates a foul odor which is hard to ignore. It’s fair to say that most people would probably have great difficulty drinking water that contains bacteria that smells foul. The bacteria cannot be removed efficiently with a standard drinking water filter and you will need a filtration system that can handle the contamination.

When you understand your well water, it’s easier to invest in a home water filtration system that can remove all the contaminants. For most well water users, this is likely to be more than a single system with the various filtration systems arranged in series. This will usually start with a pre-filter to remove sediment and larger pieces of debris that can damage your equipment. A water softener can remove any hardness and filtration can be a simple point-of-use (POU) system installed at the kitchen sink. A whole house filtration system will deliver cleaner water to every tap and plumbing fixture in your home. Many systems have a post-filter that uses activated charcoal to give the water a final polish.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filtration

One of the most popular filtration systems in use today is an RO system. This is typically installed as a POU system at the kitchen sink where it can be used for a variety of tasks, such as; making clear ice, filling pitchers for the refrigeration, cooking and baking, making better tasting beverages, cleaning produce and more. This is a very economical option compared to a whole house system and the water is very clean for drinking and eating purposes.

Reverse osmosis is a very efficient method for water filtration and no chemicals are added during this process. The incoming water is placed under pressure and forced through a semi-permeable membrane. The tiny pores of the membrane allow the water molecules to pass through but the contaminants are left behind on the surface. The surface of the membrane is periodically rinsed clean and the contaminants go into the drain. This entire process takes time, the pure water is stored in a storage tank that’s usually located under the kitchen sink for convenience. This ensures that you have access to cleaner water on-demand when you need it.

RO water has all the mineral content removed and it is true that some people think that the water tastes flat or bland. For this reason, many RO filtration systems have a post activated charcoal filter installed to improve the taste and add a little extra “polish” to the water. Some people even add a little sea or pink salt to RO water to get some beneficial salt into their drinking water. But, if you use RO water to make beverages or to cook food you may be amazed at the tastes that are usually masked by contaminants in regular tap water.

If you want to learn more about water filtration systems for private wells, contact your local water treatment specialist today.