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Words of Wisdom from a Well Owner

Words of Wisdom from a Well Owner

Many of the private well owners we come into contact with have been on the fence about testing their well water. We recently received an email from a well owner that was willing to share his experience with others to encourage them not to wait as long as he did (13 years!) to have their well water tested. We interviewed Ralph W. from North Carolina to learn more about his experience and the outcome from the perspective of a well owner.


Q: Can you please give me a little bit of bio on your home and private well? How long have you lived in your home?

RW: 13 years.

Q: Did you know there was a private well when you bought it?

RW: Yes.

Q: What were your initial thoughts on the private well?

RW: I grew up with well water and preferred it to the taste of city water, plus it meant not having to pay a water bill.

Q: Did you drink water from your private well while you lived there?

RW: Yes.

Q: When was the first time you tested your well water and what finally made you decide to test your private well?

RW: We had the water tested for bacteria about 12 years ago and the report showed no coliform contamination. In the summer of 2018 we had the water tested by the City of Raleigh Health Department for all of the organic and inorganic tests that they do and subsequently received a phone call telling us to stop drinking the water because it was contaminated with dieldrin. We tested because of urging from the privatewellclass.org website and from my wife. I thought it was going to be a waste of money.

Q: What was your experience with the well testing?

RW: For $225, the city health department sent out a representative who collected and submitted the water samples.

Q: What contaminants did you test the water for?

RW: In addition to retesting for coliform bacteria, tests were run for a wide range of inorganic minerals and an even wider range of possible organic contaminants.

Q: Did the results surprise you?

RW: It shocked us!

Q: What did the test results say after you had your well tested? Did anything surprise you about your test results?

RW: Yes! We learned that the well water was contaminated with 2 ppb of a very toxic pesticide.

Q: What sort of treatment did you have to do after you received the results?

RW: We immediately switched to drinking bottled water until we could be connected to city water which was available on our street.

Q: Did you receive any aid to treat your water?

RW: Yes. A state administered fund paid the entire cost of connecting to city water and closing the well.

Q: What advice would you give to a well owner who might be on the fence about testing their well?

RW: I very much regret not having tested the water sooner.


Testing your well regularly is probably the most important thing a well owner can do to protect their family’s health. We recommend sampling for nitrate and coliform bacteria annually. These constituents are common and provide an indicator that there is likely a pathway into your well from or near the surface. We also suggest contacting your local health agency for advice and additional information on sampling for additional constituents once every 3 -5 years.


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The Private Well Class is a collaboration between the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the University of Illinois, through the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center, and funded by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.