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Well systems at low risk for contamination from COVID

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has published an article, outlining the potential risk of the COVID-19 virus contaminating private water well systems. Groundwater, Wells and Coronavirus, authored by NGWA director of science and technology William M. Alley, and NGWA regulatory affairs manager Charles A. Job, reports private water wells are at low risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus.

While the risk to private water well systems is low, various viruses, including COVID-19, are still a potential threat to drinking water from private wells.

“There’s more to be learned about the behavior of the COVID-19 virus in water and wastewater,” said Bill Alley. “Based on knowledge to date, the risk to private wells is extremely low.”

The most effective action to protect against viruses, including COVID-19, from contaminating a water supply, is regular maintenance of well water systems and wastewater septic systems. Groundwater, Wells and Coronavirus also highlights the importance of proper septic system maintenance as well as “set-back.” Set-back is a requirement that a water supply well be at least a certain distance from a septic system or sewer line, to provide adequate time for sufficient natural degradation of chemicals and die off of harmful organisms that may endanger well water.

“The setback distance from well to septic system has a long history, and has been built into state and local water codes, to protect groundwaters tapped by wells,” said Job. “The set-back allows time for pathogens that may be carried underground to die, be filtered out or be adsorbed onto soil particles. Set-backs should take into account an area’s soils and geology.”

In addition to proper maintenance of water systems, treatment can be another important defense against pathogens in water supply, if determined by water testing to be needed. Distillation, ultraviolet (UV) treatment and reverse osmosis technologies for households, are all effective in removing viruses from water.

The article, which is available online at NGWA’s flagship publication Water Well Journal, is NGWA’s most recent resource on COVID-19’s impact on groundwater and the water well industry.

“NGWA has been an industry leader from the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse. “We feel, as experts in groundwater science and technology, it’s our duty to provide these resources to our membership and the general public, as we continue to fight this outbreak.”

For more information on properly maintaining water well systems and to find a local water well contractor, well owners are encouraged to visit Wellowner. org.