Is this serious?
Many homeowners are shocked to find that their water test comes back as unsatisfactory. They will often remark that they have been drinking the water for years without adverse affects. Before assuming the worst, take a few moments to consider the situation.

First, remember that the coliform bacteria which the lab test detects are usually harmless bacteria that are found practically everywhere in our environment. They are present in dust, carried by insects, and can be introduced to your water supply through routine well and well pump maintenance. In the majority of circumstances, contamination is an isolated occurrence due to one of several easily remedied situations. Serious contamination occurs relatively infrequently.

Ask yourself some questions concerning the history of your water system:
  • Is this a newly drilled well? Occasionally a new well will require several consecutive disinfections before all the residual bacteria are removed.
  • Have you had any repairs made on your well, pump or cistern? Normal dirt and debris carried on the equipment and hands of well drillers or repairmen will contain coliform bacteria.
  • Did you experience a water line break in the winter due to freezing, for any other reason in the recent past? Bacteria can enter the system any time there is a break.
  • Is the well cap seal in good repair, or has the well cap or cistern cover been removed for any reason? Dirt and insects that carry bacteria can easily enter a well or cistern through damaged seals, or when the covers are removed. The well vent should be covered with a small mesh screen to prevent the entrance of insects. If there are problems with any of these, contact your well driller for repair or replacement.
  • Is this a driven or sand-point well? Shallow wells typically draw their water from surface water supplies and are often contaminated. Wells may also become contaminated during periods of heavy rain or flooding. These wells cannot be disinfected using the methods outlined below. You must pump the well out for an extended period of time, generally for 12 hours or more. Wait several days and then re-sample.

Show All Answers

1. Where may I obtain a private water supply test kit, and how much do they cost?
2. What will the lab be testing my water to discover?
3. How do I take the test?
4. My water sample report came back "Unsatisfactory". What does that mean?
5. Is this serious?
6. What will we need to do to take care of this situation?
7. How soon after disinfection should I take a follow-up sample?
8. My sample came back "unsatisfactory" again. Now what do I do?
9. What types of problems can cause on-going contamination?
10. My water system and septic system have been examined and we could not find the source of contamination. What can I do to assure a safe water supply?
11. My water smells awful, almost like rotten eggs! Why is that?
12. My water has a metallic taste and/or I see rust stains in my plumbing fixtures and on my clothes. Why?
13. When my water sits in a glass, sediment forms in the bottom. Why?
14. My physician told me to have my water tested for fluoride and/or nitrates. Can you help me?