Image via Pexels

 

Once you have received your well water analysis report, what comes next? Well, the first step is to make sense of the report so you know which actions — if any — you need to take and can gain a solid understanding of what you are dealing with.

This is sometimes easier said than done. A well water analysis report provides you with a wealth of facts and figures, each pertaining to a different aspect of your well water. While this is certainly insightful, it can also be a little overwhelming. With this in mind, we have crafted a quick guide to help you understand your analysis and get to grips with the state of the water in your well. Read on to learn more.

General Factors

General factors combine a range of different aspects of the water sample. They may affect the palatability of the water, as well as its suitability for certain applications.

ph Value

What this means:

This is a measurement outlining whether the water is acidic, alkaline, or neutral. Neutral pH values are around 7, while acidic and alkaline samples will be lower and higher than 7, respectively.

Acceptable values:

6.5 to 8.5

Turbidity

What this means

Turbidity measures the degree to which light scatters as it passes through the water sample. It is a metric designed to assess the relative clarity of the water.

Acceptable values

Up to 5 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU)

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

What this means:

This is the level of minerals, metals — such as iron or manganese — salts, and organic materials that are dissolved in the water sample.

Acceptable values:

500 milligrams per liter (mg/l)

Water Hardness

What this means:

Hard water is water with a high level of calcium and magnesium dissolved into it, while soft water refers to lower levels of these dissolved minerals.

Acceptable values:

>1.0 grains per gallon (gpg) is considered soft.

1.0 to 3.5 gpg is slightly hard water.

3.5 to 7.5 gpg is moderately hard water.

7.5 to 10.5 gpg is hard water.

10.5 gpg is very hard water.

Any level from the hard water parameter and above may begin to cause problems, including mineral deposits in your pipework and unpleasant flavor.

Contaminants Linked to Known Health Issues

Below is a list of contaminants known to seriously affect human health. Pay extra attention to:

Atrazine

What this means:

A compound found in herbicides that can cause damage to the heart and liver.

Acceptable values:

3 parts per billion (ppb) or 0.003 parts per million (ppm)

Benzene

What this means:

An additive to gasoline fuels, sometimes entering the water table after an oil spill or following leaching from a landfill. May cause blood disorders, immunity issues, and cancer.

Acceptable values:

15 ppb or 0.015 ppm

Coliform

What this means:

Bacteria linked to digestive illnesses, as well as cholera and hepatitis in some cases.

Acceptable values:

Less than 1 coliform bacterium per 100 ml

Lead

What this means:

A poisonous element sometimes produced by batteries and pipe solder, often associated with older pipe infrastructure installations.

Acceptable values:

15 ppb or 0.015 ppm

Nitrates

What this means:

A compound formed from one nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms, often the by-product of fertilizers used in agriculture or found in human and animal waste. It can cause methemoglobinemia in children up to the age of 6 months.

Acceptable values:

10 mg/l of nitrate-N, or 45 mg/l of nitrate

Radon

What this means:

Radon gas is formed when uranium elements corrode and decay, and this gas can be dissolved in well water. The radon element may then be released as a gas when water is poured out of the system. The gas may cause lung cancer. It has also been linked to stomach, colon, and bladder cancers.

Acceptable values:

There is no regulatory standard in place for radon levels. However, it is recommended to take action if levels exceed 300 picocuries per liter (pCi/l).

Nuisance Contaminants

Nuisance contaminants are contaminants with no serious health implications. But they may make the water unpleasant or unsuitable for certain applications.

Chlorides

What this means:

Chlorides are salts dissolved in the water that may alter its taste. They may also cause corrosion, even to metals such as stainless steel.

Acceptable values:

250 mg/l

Copper

What this means:

An element that may become dissolved in well water. Copper causes a bitter taste in drinking water and may stain plumbing fixtures a blue-greenish color.

Acceptable values:

1.3 mg/l

Iron

What this means:

Iron also gives water a metallic taste, and it can cause brown/yellow discoloration in water. This discoloration can also stain fittings and fabrics.

Acceptable values:

0.3 mg/l

Iron Bacteria

What this means:

This bacteria feeds off iron deposits in the water or in the pipework, producing a bad odor. The bacterial reaction also produces ocher — sometimes known as bog ore — a thick, dark sludge that can block pipes and cause damage.

Acceptable values:

There is no acceptable value for iron bacteria in a well water sample. The well water analysis should find no iron bacteria present at all in the sample. Anything other than this could prove problematic, and treatment may be required.

Manganese

What this means:

Like iron and copper, manganese is an elemental metal. High concentrations of manganese may result in drinking water developing a bitter taste and cause dark black stains on surfaces and fabrics.

Acceptable values:

0.05 mg/l

Sulfates

What this means:

Sulfates are alkaline salts formed when one sulfur atom bonded to four oxygen atoms and can make the water feel oily or greasy to the touch. Sulfates may also cause a laxative effect when consumed.

Acceptable values:

250 mg/l

Review Your Well Water Analysis with Confidence

With this guide at hand, your well water analysis report becomes a powerful tool that you can use to better understand the water in your well. Remember, if there is anything you are not sure of about your report, get in touch with the relevant laboratory to discover more about the best course of action for you.