One of the problems with well water is that its quality can be easily influenced by the location of the well. Since homes with well water tend to be in rural areas, many private wells are located near farms that grow food and/or raise livestock. There are a number of contaminants that are produced by farming activities, and in certain situations those contaminants can infiltrate nearby well water. Today we’re going to talk about the effects that farming has on well water and what you can do to keep your well protected!
Contaminants move over land when it rains
Since private wells are not located on farms themselves, you might be wondering how the contaminants produced by farming can affect wells in the surrounding area. The main problem stems from storm runoff.
When it rains, some of the water from the sky is absorbed directly into the ground, but a certain amount of it travels some distance over the ground before it finally settles. The harder it rains, the further the rainwater will go. Farmland contains a number of contaminants, and those contaminants get picked up by storm runoff and carried along with it. If your private well is located downstream of a farm, it is at risk of being contaminated by runoff that flowed over a nearby farm.
How fertilizers and pesticides used by farms affect well water
Farmers use a number of chemical-based products when they are growing food. Fertilizers, for example, are used to promote the growth of crops, and they are applied directly onto the ground. The biggest problem with fertilizers when it comes to water quality is that they contain nitrates, which are known to cause stomach problems in people who consume them. In addition, nitrates are one of the leading causes of a disease called methemoglobinemia, which affects infants and pregnant women.
Another type of contaminant that’s produced by farms is pesticides. Pesticides are used to kill insects and small animals that destroy crops. These products contain a class chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). When VOC’s are consumed in water, they can cause a range of serious health problems including damage to the nervous system, irritation of the skin, headaches, dizziness, an elevated risk of certain cancers and more.
How animal waste on farms affects well water
Another byproduct of farming that affects the quality of well water is animal waste. Cows, pigs and other animals produce waste on the ground that contains dangerous viruses, pathogens and bacteria that can make people sick when they get into well water. In fact, animal waste is one of the leading causes of E. coli contamination in private wells.
How to protect your well water from the contaminants produced by farming
EPA Water offers a few different filtration systems that can protect your well water from contaminants produced by farming. A reverse osmosis system is best for handling fertilizers and pesticides, because the contaminants in those products tend to be extremely small and hard to catch by other types of filters. A UV light system is a great option for protecting your well from the contaminants in animal waste, because it is designed to kill microorganisms like viruses and bacteria in your water.
If you have any questions about the effects farming has on well water, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact EPA Water, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We provide service all over Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including towns like Newtown, Buckingham and Lansdale, PA.