Frequently Asked Questions
The minimum pH value for drinking water is 6.5
Iron has bad taste and stains the laundry and can be removed by aeration, sedementation and filtration.
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The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) recommends well owners test their water at least annually for bacteria, nitrates, and any contaminants of local concern. More frequent testing should be considered if:
- There is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the well water, or if a problem occurs such as a broken well cap, inundation by floodwaters, or a new contamination source
- The well has a history of bacterial contamination
- The septic system has recently malfunctioned
- Family members or house guests have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness
- An infant is living in the home, or
- To monitor the efficiency and performance of home water treatment equipment.
The drinking water that is supplied to our homes comes from either surface water or ground water. Surface water collects in streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Ground water is water located below the ground where it collects in pores and spaces within rocks and in underground aquifers. We obtain ground water by drilling wells and pumping it to the surface.
Public water systems provide water from surface and ground water for public use. Water treatment systems are either government or privately-held facilities. Surface water systems withdraw water from the source, treat it, and deliver it to our homes. Ground water systems also withdraw and deliver water, but they do not always treat it. For more information on public water systems, visit CDC's Public Water Systems page. For more information on how public water systems treat water, visit CDC’s Water Treatment page.
A private well uses ground water as its water source. Owners of private wells and other individual water systems are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe from contaminants. For more information on private wells and individual water systems, visit CDC's Private Wells page.
The presence of certain contaminants in our water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons may be especially at risk for becoming ill after drinking contaminated water. For example, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Federal law requires that systems reduce certain contaminants to set levels, in order to protect human health.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for making sure that public water supplies within the United States are safe. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law sought to protect the nation’s public drinking water supply by giving EPA authority to set the standards for drinking water quality and oversee the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards. In 1986 and 1996, the law was amended to protect drinking water and its sources, which include rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells.
There can be many sources of contamination of our water systems. Here is a list of the most common sources of contaminants:
- Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium)
- Local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated animal feeding operations)
- Manufacturing processes
- Sewer overflows
- Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems (for example, nearby septic systems)
Many contaminants that pose known human health risks are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA makes sure that water meets certain standards, so you can be sure that high levels of contaminants are not in your water.