Water Well Journal

May 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/498253

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Page 24 of 91

O ver the course of a well's life, it is generally evaluated multiple times. A test well is often drilled initially and sampled to evaluate the viability of the location as a water source. After com- pletion of construction and develop- ment, a new well is usually subjected to a full battery of tests per state regula- tions. Once in active use, periodic test- ing is then required to monitor for the presence of coliform organisms. The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1974 following growing concerns about the contamination of our nation's water supplies. Under the SDWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets "health-based standards" for drinking water supplies to protect against both introduced and naturally occurring contaminants that may be found in drink- ing water. States and Indian Tribes can adopt federal water quality standards or ap- prove ones more stringent. The EPA and state agencies then oversee the imple- mentation and enforcement of the stan- dards, with the states and Indian Tribes holding primary enforcement responsi- bility. This is why new well testing is conducted through and reported to your state. When originally enacted, the SDWA focused primarily on water treatment and produced water quality as the means of providing safe drinking water. But a 1996 amendment significantly expanded the existing law to include source water protection, including groundwater supply wells. Over the 40-year history of the law, the SDWA has served to greatly im- prove the quality of our nation's water resources and ensure public health. In the course of reviewing water quality standards, the EPA looks at many sub- stances as potential contaminants. Unfortunately, there remains a great misunderstanding in the role of water testing and the definition of a contami- nant. Contaminants include many harm- ful substances as well as many harmless constituents. Low levels of trace minerals, metals, and salts are all naturally present in groundwater. At low concentrations, these contaminants are harmless; some may even be desirable—such as a pref- erence for hard, "mineralized" water. Other contaminants are the result of industrial spills or improper disposal, and undesirable at any concentration. It is important to differentiate the need for required testing for health and the role of testing for maintenance and operation. For example, understanding the absence of hexachlorocyclopentadi- ene or pentachorophenol in a water sam- ple is important for classifying a new well as being free of industrial contami- nation. But it does not help in contribut- ing to the understanding of lost capacity, or premature pump failure. The confusion in testing needs spans the entire industry—from the well owner to the contractor to the engineer and even the regulator. From a labora- WELL TESTING: REGULATORY VS. MAINTENANCE WELL TESTING: REGULATORY VS. MAINTENANCE SCHNIEDERS continues on page 24 Always check with your laboratory to ensure you are using the correct sam- pling method, container, and preserva- tive if necessary for the desired tests. Know the difference between testing for health and testing for operation. By Michael Schnieders, PG, PH-GW Twitter @WaterWellJournl WWJ May 2015 23 Contaminants include many harmful substances as well as many harmless constituents. (COVER STORY)

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