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What’s on Tap? Well Water and Your Health

Many of us turn to diet and lifestyle changes to improve our health, but for SC residents sourcing their drinking water from a private well, regular testing of well water can be just as important an aspect in maintaining overall health.

For SC residents sourcing their drinking water from a private well, regular testing of well water can be an important aspect in maintaining overall health. Haley Parent, ©2020, Clemson Extension

For SC residents sourcing their drinking water from a private well, regular testing of well water can be an important aspect in maintaining overall health.
Haley Parent, ©2020, Clemson Extension

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), more than 20% of SC residents depend on private wells for their source of drinking water. Routine well maintenance and water testing of private drinking water wells is the responsibility of the homeowner and essential for ensuring that the well is a safe drinking source. Many state health agencies, including SCDHEC, recommend annual testing for coliform bacteria, including E. coli. These bacteria are indicators of fecal contamination, and their presence in any drinking water can indicate possible contamination with other bacteria or viruses.

See Table 1 below for more water quality parameters to consider when testing your well water for the first time and for continued maintenance. Though not an exhaustive list, these parameters and observations can provide a picture of your well’s water quality, which can have a direct impact on health.

Table 1- Recommended Testing Schedule for Well Water

Texas Well Owner Network, 2019, “Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply”

Texas Well Owner Network, 2019, “Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply”

Clemson Extension, in partnership with SCDHEC and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), will soon be launching Be Well Informed, a mobile workshop that provides information on SC groundwater resources, private well design, and inspection and maintenance protocol. This program also includes the opportunity for well owners to submit water samples for contaminant screening of four basic water quality parameters: pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), bacteria (including E. coli and total coliforms) and nitrates. Workshops will be offered throughout the state and operate at a reduced fee. This opportunity can assist in meeting the needs of communities on private well systems and operating with limited resources. For more information on this program and future offerings, visit the Be Well Informed website.

For more info on testing services available through the SCDHEC and commercial labs, visit SCDHEC.gov or HGIC Factsheet 3870 – Testing Drinking Water.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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