How to Keep Your Well Healthy

By Cris Carl, Networx

“Wellhead protection, whether a dug well or artesian, is a top priority in having a healthy well,” said Bart Cushing, owner of Cushing & Sons Dependable Water Wells in Keene, New Hampshire. “Wellhead protection will also solve about eighty percent of any problems you might run into as well,” he added. In the past few decades, wells have gone from being dug two to three feet wide to the more modern six-inch inch width and are primarily artesian and capped with cement.

Your first consideration when contemplating a well on your property is finding a well drilling business that has experience and references. Cushing said that people sometimes think they are saving money by hiring a contractor who is inexpensive and uses cheap, possibly hazardous materials. “I’ve had a lot of business during the recession fixing a lot of these mistakes,” said Cushing.

Once you’ve hired a reputable company you will need to consider:

*Where is the ground water?

*Is the proposed well away from sources of contamination?

*Is the location convenient to power and the building being supplied with water?

*Is the location assessable for drilling and pump installation?

Protecting your well from contaminants

Cushing advised having your well tested at least once a year, suggesting the late spring as the best time to test as that is when there is the most run-off from melting snow.

Cushing said he has been very surprised over the years regarding some of the things people don’t understand about keeping the water in their well healthy. “For example, if gasoline is spilled within one hundred feet of a well and there is enough of a gradient, sure enough, there will be petro chemicals in your well,” said Cushing. Though he added the chemicals could take two to three days to seep into the well.

Cushing noted a few other ill-advised homeowner choices, such as placing a kennel or livestock near your well. “For example, if you have ducks, you are likely to have them by a source of water, which will also likely be close to where you might place a well,” said Cushing. The great danger from having pets and livestock in range of your well is the threat of E. coli. It is also important to take into consideration use of pesticides on your property as well as salt run-off from near-by roadways. “You can filter almost anything,” Cushing said.

“Normal” contaminants in your well

Water in your well can be treated for having high levels of iron or being other high mineral contents that occur naturally depending on where your well has been dug.

Cushing said that in recent years there has been a greater concern regarding radon in water supplies. He said allowable amounts in water vary greatly from state to state, but that radon in your water supply is rarely, if ever a real concern. Cushing said in most cases you’d “have to take a twelve-hour shower for the next ten years to be affected by the amount of radon in your water.”

“Testing (water) has become far more sophisticated over the years,” said Cushing. Arsenic is another naturally occurring substance that is likely to show up during a test, but is rarely in appreciable quantities. Cushing said that arsenic is more likely to show up when you live near a railroad track. “They often treat the rails with arsenic to kill rats,” Cushing said.

If you have concerns regarding contaminants, it is a good idea to have your well tested more frequently.

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Susan Miller
Susan Miller6 years ago

Made me smile finding this ! We live in Portugal - and our artesian well just stopped working a few days back while our family was over from the UK! We only have well water - no municipal water! We had to have a new pump put down there - and discovered it was deeper than we thought - at 87 metres/ 286 feet !

Our water is now back - and beautifully cool and clear. However, we really must get it tested to double check that it's safe. Trouble with watertests is that you can test today and be fine ... and tomorrow someone somewhere up the water chain as it were ... drops some contaminant on the ground .. and it finds it's way into our watercourse. I just wish we could have a 'dip stick' test but I know that wouldn't be able to check for some things . .. I have to admit .. it is great to drink water that doesn't taste of chlorine .... !!

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago


Magdalen B.
Magdalen B6 years ago

There was proper plumbing where we stayed in the West of Ireland but all the local people got their drinking water with a bucket, from a well in a field. The tea was much nicer made with it.

William and Kat Dresbach
Katie & Bill D6 years ago

There's just nothing like good cold well water!
No additives from the town water in it!
Your food cooked with it, Ice tea is better tasting!
The whole works!
Enjoy the well if you have one, count yourself Lucky!

Sue H.
Sue H6 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago


Phillipa W.
Phillipa W6 years ago

over here we can't drink bore water. Some people use them, but only for watering the gardens. But considering the levels of the artesian basin is of concern then it's probably best not to, and use water-friendly gardens that don't die because of the water restrictions

Pat W.
Pat W6 years ago


Laura S.
Laura S6 years ago

To answer Kamryn M.'s question, I live within 10 miles of Lake Erie, which provides water for the city of Erie, Pennsylvania and many of its neighboring towns. But the system doesn't extend to every home in the county and a good many people have wells. I live in a mobile home park of about a hundred families that are served by a community well. My father, brother and 2 of my sisters all have private wells on their property. I can't cite any statistics, but there are many rural areas that are only served by well water.

To be honest, when looking for a home, I went out of my way to find a location that was outside the reach of the water lines, as the Erie Water Works saw fit to start poisoning their customers with fluoride about ten years ago. Plus, they found fourteen pharmaceuticals found in the water last year, including 5 different herbacides, DEET (an insect repellant), Acesulfame-K (an artificial sweetener), caffeine & theobromine, ibuprofen, triclosin (an antibacterial agent),trimethoprim (a urinary antibiotic), iopromide (contrast medium for brain scans), and a heart medication. (Health care is a major business here as well as agriculture.)

If my community well ever fails and they choose to connect to the water system, I'll probably move again. I'd rather take my chances with a well than knowingly drink water deemed "safe" by the EPA and the state's DEP.