If your well is functioning properly and the water doesn't smell, taste, or look funny, it can be easy to forget how important it is to do regular water testing for contaminants and quality indicators. Unlike city water, the water from a private well isn't maintained and kept clean by the municipality, so all the responsibility for making sure it stays healthy and drinkable rests on you, the owner. This means that you need to take special care to follow recommendations for testing frequency. Here are three reasons why you need to get your water tested every year according to CDC guidelines.
1. Contaminant levels can change over time
Contaminants can enter your well water from manmade contaminant sources on the surface or from the bedrock itself. When new manmade sources of contamination spring up or when circumstances change (flooding scenarios are particularly conducive to contamination), contaminants from above-ground sources can more easily reach your well. And in other situations, the levels of contaminants absorbed from the soil and bedrock can also change. For example, when your area is experiencing a drought or you're overusing your well, water may be drawn into the well from surrounding aquifers with higher concentrations of toxic minerals.
2. Filtration needs may change over time
If you currently have a filtration or treatment system in place, you may feel a false sense of confidence. It's still just as important to get your water tested; different contaminants require different treatments, and whatever treatment you're currently using, it doesn't guard against every potential situation. Testing for additional problems is still just as necessary as it was before you got the filtration setup.
3. Some contaminants may cause chronic illness only after several years
Elements found in groundwater, such as arsenic and radon gas, may cause health problems that only show up after you've been ingesting the water for a period of several years. This is especially true if the element is only present in tiny amounts. For example, arsenic can have a carcinogenic effect, but if you never test your well water, you could get sick from it years later when it's too late to do anything. You might not even realize that it was arsenic that caused your illness. So just because you haven't gotten sick from your well water yet doesn't mean that it doesn't need to be tested.
These three points highlight some of the reasons why the CDC recommends testing your well water so frequently. Be sure to check with your local authorities to see which types of testing are important for your area, and try to make a habit of testing your well water on some easy-to-remember date, such as the first day of spring.