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On well water? Be aware of changes after a quake
A good time to have your well water tested would be now, after an earthquake.

 This is a properly constructed drilled well with a sanitary well cap.
Bryan Swistock/Penn State University
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Date published: 8/26/2011

Kim Elkins is an agent in Virginia Cooperative Extension's Spotsylvania County office, specializing in family and consumer sciences. Phone 540/507-7568 or email
Email: KimElkins@vt.edu.

APRIVATE WELL or water supply can provide a sense of independence and security for a homeowner. That independence comes with great personal responsibility.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency coordinates a network of government agencies to regulate all public water sources and enforce drinking water standards. However, no government agency is responsible for the safety of private wells. If you have well water, it's completely up to you to make sure the water coming into your home is safe for you and your family.

Given the recent rumblings underground, this may be of particular importance. Read on to find out what every well-owner should know to ensure a safe water supply.

Once a year, you should inspect your well for any cracks, holes or corrosion. The recent earthquake would make now a good time.

If the casing is cracked or loose, surface water and contaminants can drip down the well and contaminate the water supply. The well cap should be secure with no gaps for critters or insects to enter. Anything that can sneak under your well cap has the potential to fall directly into your water supply. A tightly sealed sanitary cap is best, or a sturdy concrete cover if you have a bored well.

The sanitary well cap or "vermin-proof" cap looks similar to a standard well cap but has vertical bolts, an airtight rubber gasket and a small screened vent to allow for air exchange. This helps to keep your water supply safe from contaminants.

Resist the temptation to plant flowers, pile mulch, or build structures on or around the well. The area around your well should be clear and accessible. The ground should slope away from the well in all directions to prevent surface water from pooling around the wellhead.

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