Essential Water Testing: Nitrates and Coliform Bacteria
Water testing in Manassas, VA, checks for a wide range of contaminants. Two of the most crucial to detect early are nitrates and coliform bacteria. Both are the cause or indicators of multiple health hazards.
That’s why getting water testing in Manassas, VA, done at least once a year, is so important. Many property owners don’t realize that private wells are not subject to the stringent laws that regulate testing for public sources of drinking water.
The only way to be sure your family is safe is to arrange water testing in Manassas, VA, yourself. Choose a professional company like SES that has been serving the region for decades.
Well Water Is Safe
Wells have provided safe drinking water for thousands of years. The water they produce often meets and exceeds the quality of public drinking water, in taste, cleanliness and general usability.
But because it comes direct from the earth, it is vulnerable to contaminants that leach into the groundwater and seeps into wells. That’s why testing is essential. Contamination can happen anywhere. Remember that public drinking water is constantly tested. Your source of water also needs regular water testing in Manassas, VA.
Here is a closer look at two of the most common, and dangerous, contaminants in well water in this region.
The Dangers of Nitrates in Your Well Water
Nitrates are naturally occurring in many foods. But if you consume them in large amounts, they can lead to serious illness. They get into your well water from wastewater, fertilizers and decaying vegetable matter like old leaves.
Problems from ingesting too many nitrates is especially harmful for infants under six months old. The nitrates enter their stomachs, where the substance is converted to nitrite. This gets into the infant’s bloodstream and prevents oxygen from getting to essential parts of the body. The result is blue baby syndrome and even suffocation.
Yearly testing is essential. But if you notice changes in the taste of your water, in how it looks or with strange odors, call for immediate water testing in Manassas, VA.
Coliform Bacteria Causes Health Problems
Coliform bacteria is an indicator of more serious contaminants. Though coliform itself probably won’t get you sick, what is present in the water along with it will cause illness. Water testing for coliform bacteria in Manassas, VA, is considered one of the most basic, and essential tests, for your private well.
It is recommended that you test at least once a year. You can’t tell by tasting, smelling or visually inspecting your water that coliform bacteria is present. Water testing in Manassas, VA, is the only to determine if it is present.
Coliform bacteria shows up often in the soil, in plants and in surface water. It is a simple matter for runoff to bring it into your well water. Another common cause is a breech in your well casing.
If well water testing in Manassas, VA, shows signs of coliform bacteria, a follow test needs to be done. This checks for fecal coliform. This can cause diarrhea, vomiting, dysentery, viruses and roundworms and tapeworms.
A subtype of the fecal coliform is E.coli, short for Escherichia coli. This starts out in the intestines of humans and animals. If it shows up in testing, it means that animal or human waste is contaminating your well. The cause is often feces or sewage leaking into it. It might mean your septic system has a leak or that the drainage system in your barnyard has problems.
Check the seals around your well, as well as the pipes and wires. Make sure there are no cracks in the cap or where it connects with the casing. Look for holes or leaks all over the well casing. This is what lets water in that hasn’t been filtered up through the soil. Another common source of bacteria is well flooding.
Once you figure out the source of the E.coli, you will need to repair your well system and get it disinfected. Then follow-up tests will be done to make sure the water is safe for human consumption.
Other Problems Found in Well Water
Well water testing in Manassas, VA, can detect a range of problems and their causes. One common problem is found in older homes. These often have wells that were installed at a time when digging shallow was acceptable and considered safe.
The major problem with shallow wells is that bacteria, living on the surface of water in ponds and puddles, can easily seep into your well and contaminate it. Another problem with shallow wells is that they aren’t practical because they often don’t produce enough water for a family’s daily needs.
Many problems are caused by how the well was constructed. For example, wells that are lined with brick or stone need to be properly sealed. If they aren’t, it is a simple matter for contaminants to get in. Another problem is a well without a sealed cover.
Some wells have been located too close to septic systems or barnyards, making it easy for contamination to happen. The zone of safety is a full 100 yards in all directions around the well. A similar problem is cross-connections between the septic system and the plumbing system, leading to contamination.
Well casings need to be both deep enough into the ground and high enough above the surface to prevent bacteria from entering. If the well isn’t high enough, surface water complete with bacteria and contaminants can enter the upper part of the well. And if the casing doesn’t extend downward far enough, bacteria can’t be filtered out effectively.
Older wells can let in contaminants through spots that are corroded or cracked. Some older wells use “stove-pipe” casing, which is no longer considered effective for preventing bacteria from getting access to the well water.
If a cap on the well is loose, rodents and bugs can easily get in. The result is a significant increase in bacteria.
Problems like these can make your well water unsafe. The only way to be sure is with water testing in Manassas, VA. If bacteria and contamination is found, the well will need to be repaired, updated, or in some cases replaced.
Well Water Testing Makes Good Sense
In Manassas, VA, initial well water testing is often required by banks before a real estate transaction can be completed. The seller is responsible to make sure the testing is done.
During an initial well water testing, the technician checks for:
- Coliform and E.coli
- 19 heavy metals
- 7 inorganic chemicals
- 5 physical factors
- 4 trihalomethanes
- 47 volatile organic chemicals
- pesticides, if requested
Regular follow-up testing looks for signs of:
- coliform and fecal coliform bacteria
- hydrogen sulfide
- total hardness
Every year there is an increase in the number of chemicals available for cleaning, building and farming. More and more pollutants and petroleum-based products are released into the environment. All of this can have a significant effect on the safety of the water in your well.
Without testing, you simply don’t know what you and your family members are ingesting. Many substances are toxic to humans in the long-term. Regular testing, at least once a year, let gives you a heads-up about potential problems. Of repair work is less expensive when the trouble is caught early.
Work with Experts
In Manassas, VA, SES has been doing water testing since 1987. The team here at SES has extensive experience with well and septic systems. We use the most advanced and stringent testing methods available so you know the information you get is accurate. We have earned a solid reputation for thoroughness and expertise, winning the respect of local and state health departments and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
We handle a variety of environmental work, from septic systems to storm water structures, petroleum tanks to soil investigations. We work with lawyers, government agencies, property management firms, architects, realtors, land planners, property developers, business owners, homeowners and contractors.
For larger projects, SES acts as a sub-contractor, with its design-build expertise. We handle small and medium projects like septic systems design, installation and repair for property owners, the repair of storm water structures. If you have a contaminated area you need to restore, we do nutrient removal, as well as “cradle-to-grave” disposal, which is safe and legal.
We handle all types of environmental projects, commercial, governmental and residential, including:
- Well water testing
- Soil investigations for onsite systems
- Monitoring well installation and sampling
- Septic inspections, installations, maintenance and repair
- Conventional and alternative septic system design
- Petroleum tank removals, inspections and installations
- Petroleum contamination cleanup
- Operations and maintenance contracts
- Storm water structure inspection, reporting and maintenance
- Corrective action plans
For expert water testing in Manassas, VA, call the professionals at SES today.