Friday, March 8, 2013

Groundwater: Out of sight, but not out of mind

National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 10-16, 2013, is a good time for the owners of household drinking water wells to test their water as managers of their own, personal drinking water system. 
The Maine CDC recommends that private well owners test their water annually for bacteria, nitrate, and nitrite and every three to five years for arsenic, radon, uranium, lead, and fluoride.  
Well owners should check their water more often than annually if:
  • There is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the water
  • A problem occurs such as a broken well cap or a new contamination source
  • Family members or houseguests have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness
  • An infant is living in the home
  • There is a need to monitor the efficiency and performance of home water treatment equipment.
For a list of certified drinking water testing laboratories in Maine, see: Maine Certified Commercial Laboratories.  
If your drinking water is supplied by a public water system, you can be assured that the water you receive is regularly monitored and tested to ensure that it meets federal and state drinking water standards and is safe to drink.   
Whether you have your own private well or are supplied by a public water system, there are several things you can do to protect groundwater: 
  • Properly maintain your septic system: make sure to have your septic tank pumped every 3 to 5 years and check for signs that your septic system is not working
  • Handle gasoline, motor oil, fertilizers, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals with care, making sure not to dump them on the ground or pour them down the sink. When you’re done with them, dispose of them properly at a recycling center
  • Inspect your heating oil tank and its piping to make sure it’s not leaking, starting to corrode or rust, or in danger of tipping over
  • Don’t throw away or flush unused or unwanted medications down the drain. There are several law enforcement agencies throughout the state that will accept unused prescription drugs for proper and safe disposal. For more information, visit: Maine State Map of Law Enforcement Agencies Accepting Unused, Unwanted Consumer Prescription Drugs for Disposal
For more information about private wells, visit For information about public water systems, visit

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