Author Topic: Bacteria in my well  (Read 2941 times)

Offline ga-qhd

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Bacteria in my well
« on: May 24, 2019, 05:34:54 PM »
I have a relatively shallow bored well (43' deep, 2' in diameter).  When I returned it to service after about ...5-10 years, the coliform test came back positive.  I was getting surface water into the well bore.  I had some refurbishing done and, after another gallon of bleach, it was fine.  Six months later, I have tested it again and it again is positive for coliforms (most of which are apparently non-pathogenic; coliforms are used as an indicator species to detect when contamination is present).  I've been drinking it and haven't had any issues, but I'll shock it again--however, this will probably recur.  The concrete well casing seems to be in good shape, and the water is 27' down--which should be deep enough that the soil should filter it.  Nonetheless, shallow wells are apparently notorious for trouble on an ongoing basis.

I have a Royal Berkey that I have never set up, but which I could start using routinely. I do go through a lot of drinking water, so would cycle it frequently. Or I could drill a deep well (200' or more) into the aquifer and get what my well guy says would be organism-free, but iron-laden water.  Or do nothing  and / or shock it with more bleach periodically.  The cooperative extension service put out a piece a few years ago that suggested almost nobody living off of bored wells ever gets their water tested.

Any thoughts?

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2019, 05:39:00 PM »
no.  but I will be watching this.  Wells are a mystery to me, and I want to know more (mine is 370') about their vagarities.

Offline never_retreat

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2019, 07:13:56 AM »
Add a UV filter. Not to expensive easy to install.

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2019, 05:25:43 PM »
Add a UV filter. Not to expensive easy to install.

Thanks for the suggestion--that looks like it has some potential. I do have some sediment in my water (even after 1 micron filtration) but it's minimal.  It could work (and would definitely be a lot cheaper and easier than drilling a new well).

Offline Prepper456

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2019, 08:38:37 PM »
one of my friends uses peroxide to treat his familys well

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 02:29:50 PM »
I put the Berkey into service.  The water is still full of coliforms (and whatever other bacteria I'm not testing for), but the Berkey does filter it all out (albeit very slowly even after priming--I had another quantitative bacteria test done and it was zero).  I will probably at some point do the new well, but for now this is working.

Offline IKN

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2020, 12:28:20 PM »
Does your concrete casing come all the way to the surface ???
Modern bored wells are capped at least 15' below the surface and either a PVC or iron pipe run to the surface.
If the concrete casing is ran to the top, surface water with bacteria can seep through the concrete due to its porosity.
If you can access it, you might try coating some sort of non-toxic concrete sealant on the first 10-15 feet down.

Drilling a new deep well is an alternative, but if the deep water in your area tends to be laden with iron, it can cause a lot of issues and the water treatment equipment to remove the iron isn't cheap.
I remember years back when my wife's uncle built a house and drilled a deep well about a mile down the road from where we live now. The water was heavy with iron so much that it came out of the taps orange and discolored all their laundry.

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2020, 02:46:17 AM »
Does your concrete casing come all the way to the surface ???
Modern bored wells are capped at least 15' below the surface and either a PVC or iron pipe run to the surface.
If the concrete casing is ran to the top, surface water with bacteria can seep through the concrete due to its porosity.
If you can access it, you might try coating some sort of non-toxic concrete sealant on the first 10-15 feet down.

Drilling a new deep well is an alternative, but if the deep water in your area tends to be laden with iron, it can cause a lot of issues and the water treatment equipment to remove the iron isn't cheap.
I remember years back when my wife's uncle built a house and drilled a deep well about a mile down the road from where we live now. The water was heavy with iron so much that it came out of the taps orange and discolored all their laundry.

I had wondered if the concrete casing might be a problem. Yes, the concrete comes to the top, and it's a series of pieces about 3' high that fit together tongue-in-groove.  When I look down the access hatch it can be seen that the concrete is damp starting where the first seam is. The well company that worked on it applied some cement to the outside of the seams for the top two segments--but nothing on the inside.

I don't know that the iron problem is bad enough to tint laundry and stain sinks and tubs here.  I'm going to check with the county extension office, which should have well test data for the area from others.  Iron is one of the tests in the basic analysis they run.


Offline IKN

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2020, 04:37:31 AM »
If the old well produces enough to make you happy, you might consider another alternative.
Using a holding tank like one of those 100-500 gallon plastic water tank to hold water pumped from the well. Install a level switch to start/stop the well pump to fill this tank.
An injector pump can be added that can be set up to run whenever the well pump starts to pump sodium hypochlorite (basically bleach) into the water line coming from the well pump. The injector pumps are usually variable displacement positive displacement pumps so that the injection rate can be easily adjusted. The holding tank will need to be vented to allow the chlorine to evaporate out.
From the holding tank you can use a small shallow well pump that feeds your pressure tank.

If you don't want to use chemicals, a UV filter can be installed on the well pump line to the holding tank, as suggested in another post. Either of these options should be way cheaper than having a new deep well drilled. When I priced a new well some 15 years ago, I got estimates at $10,000+ for a 400 foot drilled well. This only included the drilling, casing, pump, and plumbing to the top of the ground. It was going to be an additional cost to plumb it to the house.

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2020, 04:13:18 AM »
I haven't seriously looked into chlorination, but did investigate UV.  The one thing that gave me pause with that was when my water turned up with some turbidity after a heavy rain (and after the nominal 1-micron filter). Clay particles can easily be sub-1 micron, but I usually don't have a problem with them.  The slightly cloudy water made me think it was coming in from the top again, but I just had a well camera inspection, and it isn't.  After they looked over the site they said it was probably just a rapid increase in groundwater following the heavy rain causing inflow from the bottom that stirred up the clay.  If that is true, the same thing should happen again: I got 6" of rain yesterday.  The UV would probably still work (it can't handle very turbid water, but mine wasn't that bad even after the one event), but the sedimentation is problematic for other reasons (appliances with plastic parts in their pumps, etc.).

I would expect about the same cost for me ($10,000) to drill a deep well, which would probably need to go down about 300'.



Offline IKN

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2020, 09:07:53 AM »
It's a hard choice. I know since I had the same dilemma when I put my new well in.
It was probably already mentioned, but you should ask local neighbors with deep wells what their water quality is id possible. The closer to you the better.
Deep well water can have its own problems with things like high iron content, sulfur, and other noxious and/or odorous minerals that would require buying treatment systems to handle.

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2020, 04:17:20 PM »
I'm going to drill a well--as expected, the 6" downpour stirred up the water again and I have a lot of sediment.  Then another 3" fell yesterday. The cloudy water clogged up the Berkey pretty quickly, too. This does not happen often, but when it does, it lasts about a week.  Given the two heavy rainfalls, it might be the middle of next week before things clear up.  :(

Offline Stwood

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2020, 06:24:20 PM »
You say this is a 2' (foot) diameter well?

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2020, 04:51:18 PM »
You say this is a 2' (foot) diameter well?

Yes, 2' diameter concrete casing, tongue-in-groove segments.  It took almost 2 weeks for the water to clear up after the heavy rainfall.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2020, 05:13:44 PM »
Thats a big casing.

Offline IKN

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2020, 09:26:43 AM »
Not really. The well I had bored some 10 years plus ago has a 36" concrete casing.
Bored wells can only go around 100 feet deep, whereas drilled wells are smaller diameter and use steel pipe casings and can go hundreds of feet deep.

Offline LeonardMaine

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2020, 05:02:12 AM »
Bacteria, sediments, and hardness are the 3 main common issues with well water as I know of. In your shoes, I'd either add a UV filter or replace the filter system with a more complete version that tackles as many of my issues as possible. I use an Aquasana with UV light and salt technology to soften the water (hardness issues in my area). I compared options here before I made a decision - https://popular.reviews/whole-house-water-filters-for-well/ Maybe it helps you too, best of luck, no matter what you choose to do in the end.

Offline ga-qhd

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Re: Bacteria in my well
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2020, 03:25:00 AM »
Bacteria, sediments, and hardness are the 3 main common issues with well water as I know of. In your shoes, I'd either add a UV filter or replace the filter system with a more complete version that tackles as many of my issues as possible. I use an Aquasana with UV light and salt technology to soften the water (hardness issues in my area). I compared options here before I made a decision - https://popular.reviews/whole-house-water-filters-for-well/ Maybe it helps you too, best of luck, no matter what you choose to do in the end.

I was going to go with a UV unit until I had the sediment issue following the rain.  Normally that suggests problems with the casing somewhere, but I had a well camera inspection done and found that the casing was fine: it's just that the well was shallow enough that a heavy rain pushed water up from the bottom fast enough that it stirred up very fine sub-micron sediment.  UV doesn't work as well on cloudy water.

So I bailed on it and drilled a new well.

Hardness isn't too much of a problem with the new water source, although iron is slightly above the EPA standard.  My neighbor, who has a well of the same depth nearby, reports that he's never had any of the iron issues that can happen.  So all seems to be good.