Homeowners urged to care for private water wells

Underscoring the importance of Wisconsin’s valuable groundwater resources, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding state residents to protect and conserve water as part of National Groundwater Awareness Week, which runs through Saturday. The agency will provide resources to help people learn about the importance of groundwater and how it impacts our daily lives.

“Groundwater is one of the most widely used and valuable resources on the planet, used for drinking, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing and many other purposes, so it’s important to protect it,” said Bruce Rheineck, DNR groundwater section chief.

Approximately two-thirds of Wisconsin residents, or nearly 3.9 million people, get their drinking water from groundwater. Adequate supplies of safe groundwater are crucial not only to the health of those families, but also for the continued growth of agricultural production and industries in Wisconsin. In fact, the importance of safe drinking water is the foundation of Gov. Tony Evers’ declaration that 2019 is the Year of Clean Water and the reason for several initiatives included in his biennial budget proposal.

Homeowners with private wells are reminded to “Test, Tend, Treat” their wells. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure their well water is safe to drink.

• Test: Water should be routinely sampled, as quality can change over time. Well water pollutants are often colorless and odorless, making detection at home difficult. The DNR’s well water testing web page has information on water supply testing procedures and how to understand the results.

• Tend: Regular inspections of wells can protect and reduce the possibility of future issues. Annual inspections should be completed by a licensed or certified water well system professional. Between inspections, owners are encouraged to check the well for warning signs which might include a cracked well cap, debris on or around the wellhead, or ponding or flooding around the well after storm events.

• Treat: Based on the type of contaminants reported in the test results, several types of treatment options are available. Information about water supply treatment options is available from the University of Wisconsin Extension. Also, be certain that any treatment unit you purchase or lease has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

For information about National Groundwater Awareness Week, visit www.ngwa.org.