Pollution and Protection of Karst Wells and Springs
How Clean is Your Well Water?
Many homeowners believe that the source of their groundwater
is miles away, and is naturally protected from surface activities.
In reality, water quality monitoring projects in cave country have documented
that water often comes directly from the immediate surface. These projects
also have found unacceptable levels of bacteria and nutrients in more
than half of the private water wells sampled.
can originate on your property or on surrounding
land, potentially resulting in unsafe drinking water supplies for
both you and your neighbors. Household wells and springs can be contaminated
by many common and seemingly harmless activities such as boarding or
pasturing livestock; the over-application of pesticides, herbicides,
or fertilizers; storing home heating oil; vehicle maintenance; and on-site
Protecting Your Well Water
- The best means of protecting your groundwater supply is to become
familiar with the geology and hydrology of your watershed, and to work
diligently with your neighbors to clean up dumps and limit potentially
polluting activities in key source water areas.
Your family's health depends on a safe, reliable source of
water for drinking, bathing and other needs. Your well is also
valuable because it represents a large financial investment.
Most health risks associated with low-level bacterial contaminated
groundwater supplies can be resolved at the tap with an individual
system (normally for less than $0.15 per gallon). For rural neighborhoods
or subdivisions, community well fields, or springs with permitted
package treatment plants are an option. All treatment systems have
costs and specific maintenance requirements.
- Proper well siting and construction is essential to keep polluted
surface water out of the aquifer and to avoid drilling into caves.
For the best
protection immediately around the well itself, isolate the well
as much as possible. Site new wells at least 200 to 1000 feet away
feed lots, livestock pens, sinkholes, dumps, septic systems, fuel
tanks, and other above-ground and underground sources of contamination.
livestock out of the spring or wellhead area. Maps developed by
local cavers and water management districts can also assist in locating
away from subsurface cave pass on a safe, reliable source of water
for drinking, bathing and other needs. Your will is also valuable because
it represents a large financial investment.