In nature, there is no such thing as pure water. Water wants to take on virtually any soluble contaminant that it encounters. Water pumped or flowing from water wells will always contain at least some level of contaminants, potentially leading to water quality problems.

Noticeable Water Quality Problems

Water quality problems often have objectionable side effects that can typically be segregated into one of six categories:

1) Colors

  • a. Blue/Green – Normally associated with an elevated level of copper in the water supply. It may be a naturally occurring contaminant or the water may be acidic and picking up the copper from your home’s plumbing.
  • b. Red/Orange – Normally associated with Iron being present in the water supply. Sometimes the water will come out of the faucet clear and after sitting for a while, it will begin to show its color.
  • c. Black – Normally associated with Manganese being present in the water supply.
  • d. Yellow to light brown (maybe tea-like) – Normally associated with Tannins being present in the water supply.
  • e. Cloudy – Normally associated with Turbidity in the water supply.

2) Deposits

  • a. Whitish Scale – Normally associated with Hardness or elevated levels of Total Dissolved Solids being present in the water supply.
  • b. Bathtub rings – Normally associated with Hardness being present in the water supply.
  • c. Soap Scum – Normally associated with Hardness being present in the water supply.

3) Smells

  • a. Rotten Eggs – Normally associated with Hydrogen Sulfide being present in the water supply. Normally Hydrogen Sulfide exists along with sulfur-reducing bacteria, iron-related bacteria, and/or manganese-related bacteria.
  • b. Bleach or swimming pool – Normally associated with Chlorine being present in the water supply. On water wells, this usually results from a chlorinator.
  • c. Sewage – Normally associated with improper well or septic disposal systems. Although more likely to be seen in shallow wells, it can be present in deep wells.
  • d. Sweet – Normally associated with MTBE or Xylenes being present in the water supply.

4) Spots

  • a. Glassware, plates, flatware – Normally associated with Hardness or elevated Total Dissolved Solids in the water supply.
  • b. Laundry – Normally associated with Hardness, Tannins, Manganese, and/or Iron in the water supply.
  • c. Teeth – Normally associated with excessive fluoride in the water supply.

5) Stains

  • a. Blue/Green – Normally associated with Copper in the water supply.
  • b. Red/Orange – Normally associated with Iron in the water supply.
  • c. Dark Brown/Black –– Normally associated with Manganese in the water supply.
  • d. Grey – Normally associated with clay, aluminum, Hardness, or Total Dissolved solids in the water supply.
  • e. Yellow – Normally associated with Tannins in the water supply.

6) Tastes

  • a. Bitter – Normally associated with Alkalinity or Sulfate in the water supply.
  • b. Salty – Normally associated with Chloride in the water supply.
  • c. Metallic – Can be a wide range of metals that are elevated in the water supply including aluminum, Copper, Iron, Manganese, or Zinc. Also can be related to acidic water.
  • d. Sour – Normally associated with pH not being neutral (7) in the water supply.

Water Quality Problems– not easily detected without proper testing

The above water quality problems can be very problematic, but fortunately, they can be detected by how we use the water. The more dangerous water contaminants are those that do not have a smell, taste, odor, staining, spotting, or deposits associated with them, as they often go undetected. The testing for these impurities is the responsibility of the well owner, and oftentimes the levels will vary by season, rainfall/drought, or other environmental factors. GW Pumps and Purification offers well owners a wide variety of water tests to better determine the type and level of impurities in well water. GW also offers water treatment systems that can remove virtually all of these impurities. These “not easily detectable water impurities” can be segregated into the following 4 categories:

1) Biological

  • a. Bacteria – Single-Celled Organisms such as Total Coliform – a grouping of bacteria that includes Fecal Coliform, E-Coli, Salmonella, and Shigella.
  • b. Protozoa – Single-Celled Large Organisms often resistant to chlorination or ultra-violet irradiation. – Examples would include Cryptosporidium and Giardia. In 1993, a chlorinated water supply in Milwaukee caused 400,000 illnesses and over 50 deaths.
  • c. Viruses – Protein packaged DNA or RNA such as the Norwalk Virus or Rotavirus.

2) Inorganic Chemicals

  • a. Metals – Aluminum, Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Selenium, Silver, Sodium, and Zinc.
  • b. Physical Factors – Alkalinity, Chloride, Fluoride, Nitrate, Nitrite, Sulfate, pH, Total Dissolved Solids, and Turbidity.

3) Organic chemicals

  • a. Trihalomethanes (THMs) –Bromoform, Bromodichloromethane, Chloroform, Dibromochloromethane, and Total Trihalomethanes.
  • b. Synthetic Organic Contaminants (SOCs) – 2,4-D, 2,4,5-TP (Silvex), Acrylamide, Benzoapyrene, Carbofuran, Dalapon, Di 2-ethylhexyl adipate, Di 2-ethylhexyl phthalate, Dibromochloropropane, Dinoseb, Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD), Diquat, Endothall, Epichlorohydrin, Ethylene dibromide, Glyphosate, Oxamyl [Vydate], Pentachlorophenol, and Picloram.
  • c. Volatile Organic Contaminants (VOCs) – Benzene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Chlorobenzene, o-Dichlorobenzene, p-Dichlorobenzene, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, cis-1,2Dichloroethylene, trans-1,2-Dicholoroethylene, Dichloromethane, 1,2-Dichloroethane, 1,2-Dichloropropane, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Tetrachloroethylene, 1,2,4Trichlorobenzene, 1,1,1,-Trichloroethane, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, Trichloroethylene, Toluene, Vinyl Chloride, and Xylenes.
  • d. Pesticides, Herbicides, and PCBs – 2,4-D, Alachlor, Aldrin, Atrazine, Chlordane, Dichloran, Dieldrin, Endrin, Heptachlor, Heptachlor Epoxide, Hexachlorobenzene, Hexachlorocyclopentadiene, Lindane, Methoxychlor, (PCB) Pentachloronitrobenzene, Silvex (2,4,5-TP), Simazine, Toxaphene, and Trifluralin.

4) Radioactive

  • a. Beta particles and photon emitters, Gross alpha particle activity, Radium 226 and Radium 226, and Radon.