Many people in Idaho have private wells on their property. Some people use their private wells for irrigation and agriculture only, and some use private wells for drinking water in their homes. Private wells are not regulated the way public water systems are; it is up to the homeowner to make sure they are properly maintained and protected from contamination.
Private well owners may not realize that certain steps must be taken to ensure the water they are drinking is safe, and to protect other people sharing the aquifer.
Private well owners should be educated about the importance of source water protection just as public utility users should. The value of community cooperation cannot be stressed enough. You should make an effort to reach private well owners regarding household hazardous waste, pesticide, storm drains, backflow, and all the other concerns that you would want your public utility users to be aware of.
View brochure on well maintenance from Health and Welfare.
If not properly maintained, private wells can provide a pathway for contaminants to enter the aquifer that serves as your local drinking water source.What can be done?
- Well owners should test their water annually for a range of constituents, and more often if they notice a change in color, taste, or odor.
- Private well owners should check their well head and casing annually for cracks, holes, or broken parts that would allow contaminants to enter the well.
- Pesticides, herbicides, animal waste, gasoline, and other chemicals should not be stored or piled near the well head.
- The well head should not be located in a low spot where water (and therefore contaminants) could collect and infiltrate.
- Septic tanks should be properly maintained, and located down gradient from the well intake to avoid contamination from the drain field.
- Fertilizers and other lawn and garden chemical should not be applied within fifty feet of the well head (at a minimum).
- If there are a large number of private well owners in your area, or contamination issues, consider hosting a private well testing event.