If you have been drinking your well water for some time, you may have never thought about the possibility of it being contaminated. However, as water supplies all over the country become more and more contaminated with chemicals and other pollutants, it is important to make sure that your water supply is safe. 

How Does Well Water Become Contaminated?

Wells can be contaminated both naturally and by humans. Harmful contaminants and chemicals can find their way into your water in a variety of ways.

One of the main culprits of well water contamination, especially in rural areas, is agriculture. Fertilizer storage and use, animal waste disposal systems, manure stockpiles, and pesticide sprays can all contribute to well water contaminations and can end up making those who drink it extremely ill. Additionally, commercial, residential, and industrial activities can contaminate wells through waste disposal, pipelines, household chemicals, sewer lines, and more.

In contrast, naturally occurring contaminants can also seep into well water. Oftentimes natural geological sources, like rock and sediment can contaminate your water through aquifers. Some of the unwanted contaminants that can seep into your water supply include things like radon, arsenic, uranium, and manganese.

How Do I Know if My Well Water is Contaminated?

There isn’t one telltale sign that your well water is contaminated but there are a few characteristics you can look out for. Some of the signs may be visible, while some of them you may not be able to tell until you take a sip or take a sniff. 

Visible Signs of Well Water Contamination

  • Buildup – Scale buildup is often associated with a high concentration of calcium or magnesium. Both of these contaminants are minerals that can create hard water and lead to unsightly buildup. Water hardness can cause problems with plumbing and appliances by depositing scale on surfaces like pipes and toilets, which can lead to leaks and in worse cases, bursts. 
  • Murky Water – When you first fill up a clear glass with water there may be bubbles but once they subside, can you see through your water? Murky water could be a result of different sediments making it through your faucet. Depending on your water source and the pipes in your home, silt, dirt, and rust could travel with your water and end up in your glass.
  • Colored Stains – Unnatural stains on your sinks and faucets could also be a sign of contamination. Green-colored stains could be a sign of highly acidic water, while brown or red-colored stains could be a sign of dissolved iron. While acidic water can cause kidney and liver disease, too much iron can cause damage to the heart, liver, and pancreas.

Tasting Signs of Well Water Contamination

  • Salty and Bitter – A salty, bitter taste can be caused by the water’s total dissolved solids (TDS). Normally these total dissolved solids are combinations of chlorides, sulfates, and bicarbonates.
  • Bleach-like or Chemical – High levels of chlorine and household chemicals making their way into your water can make your drinking water taste like chemicals or have hints of bleach. Some municipalities also add their own chlorine which can affect the taste.
  • Musty – A musty, wood-like taste can because by organic contaminants like algae.

Smelling Signs of Well Water Contamination

  • Rotten-egg Odor – If you often find yourself with water that smells like rotten eggs you could be a victim of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide can hide in the soil surrounding your well, leading to seepage that affects your water. 
  • Bleachy – Just as the taste of bleach and chemicals can be a sign of well water contamination, so can the smell. 
  • Musty – Algae and total dissolved solids can also create a musty, wood-like smell to radiate from your water. 

Is There a Better Way to Tell If My Well Water is Contaminated?

While looking, tasting, and smelling your water can help you decipher if your well water is contaminated, there is a much easier way to find out exactly what is in your water. Well water tests can be performed on your well to provide you with the exact contaminants that your water may be holding.

Culligan Water of Northeast Kansas offers free well water tests to assist in helping residents find out what contaminants are in their water. The testing of your water by one of Culligan Water’s licensed local water experts is the key to determining if you have a water problem, how to solve your problem, and what equipment and service you need to restore fresh, clean drinking water to your home.

How Can I Fix My Contaminated Well Water?

While you can’t completely remove contaminants from your well water source, you can remove those contaminants from reaching the faucets in your home. With a whole home system, you can enjoy filtered, soft water throughout your home. While well water can be unpredictable, with a water filtration system you can always know what to expect in your drinking glass. If you’re interested in learning more about whole home water systems or scheduling a free well water test, contact Culligan Water of Northeast Kansas today!


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