Hand dug well under construction (C) A Starkman D Friedman Hand Dug Water Well Water Potability
Is the well water ok to drink?
     

  • DUG WELL POTABILITY TEST - CONTENTS: Testing the potability of hand dug well water: how we check on the sanitation or potability of water from a hand dug well. Advice for Hand Dug Water Wells as a source of drinking water
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about determining the quality & safety of well water from a hand dug well: how do we test & protect the hand dug well water for & from contamination?
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Potability / safety of water from a hand dug well:

This article series offers advice for Hand Dug Water Wells and the sanitation and maintenance concerns with this water supply type.

This article describes the process of digging a well to provide usable water and the steps taken to make the well safe and sanitary. We include both technical advice and a description of the practical problems that one must encounter and overcome in providing usable water in an area where public water supply is absent or limited.

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Checking the Potability of Water from a Dug Well

Boiling water to make it safe to drink (C) Daniel Friedman Alvin Starkman M.A., LL.B., Casa Machaya, Oaxaca Bed and Breakfast. The article author, Alan Starkman writes here about well digging from a lay person's perspective. Also see Hand Dug Well Sanitation for more about safe drinking water from hand dug wells.

[Click to enlarge any image]

This article series offers advice for Hand Dug Water Wells and the sanitation and maintenance concerns with this water supply type.

This article describes the process of digging a well to provide usable water and the steps taken to make the well safe and sanitary.

We include both technical advice and a description of the practical problems that one must encounter and overcome in providing usable water in an area where public water supply is absent or limited. The article author, Alan Starkman is a retired Toronto attorney who operates the Casa Machaya bed and breakfast in Oaxaca Mexico. Mr. Starkman has written more than 90 articles about life and cultural traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico, and writes here about well digging from a lay person's perspective.

I had the water from our new dug well tested at a local university, but after a couple of rains and no cover on it, and it came back with some e-coli, apparently no surprise.

The engineer said to come back after the tabique circle (partition wall circle) and arc are done, the top is on, and all the crap at the bottom has been removed and the rest has had a few days to settle so we can get a more accurate readying of more or less pure water without drain-off contaminants.

She said she'd then test again, and we would put in some bleach, and test again to see the potential.  She is confident that the water will be drinkable (not that we will drink it, but it certainly suggests your contention  is right on that it should be kept isolated from the regular cistern water).

The best of all is that she's prepared to work with me in term of recommending chemicals, people to clean and filter, etc.  I already have a pump guy for a submersible, and it's just a matter of determining how many hp, you'd think a simple task, but not so down here.

Water Quality: Technical Notes on Dug Well Sanitation

Well chlorinator (C) Daniel FriedmanIt is almost impossible to keep a dug well sanitary - dug wells are usually completely open to surface and ground water runoff.

You can shock the well, but if you are not going to drill a modern sanitary well (costly) you will need to install water treatment equipment to sanitize the water - after testing to see what contaminants besides bacteria are present. Shocking a dug well (see WELL CHLORINATION SHOCKING PROCEDURE) to try to make the water potable or safe to drink is usually pointless. If nonetheless someone insists on shocking the well, or on letting it "settle" before further testing, also see our warnings at FAILED WATER TESTS - WHEN to RE-TEST.

Our photo (left) shows a typical residential well water chlorination system.

If the well water is used for irrigation, such as watering plants, and possibly for filling a swimming pool (slowly or you'll run the well dry - see How Much Water Will a Dug Well Deliver?) - watch out whose water will be disinfected by the pool treatment equipment, using the Dug well may be fine.

But if the dug well water is to be used for drinking - that is, for a potable water supply - water treatment equipment will be needed.

Before you can choose what water treatment system is appropriate, it is important to test the water for both sanitation issues (bacteria, chemical contaminants) as well as aesthetic concerns (sediment, odors, taste).

See WATER TESTING GUIDE and WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS for advice.

See WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES for some options to help assure that water from a dug well is sanitary and thus acceptable for drinking.

Also see the EPA GUIDE to WATER QUALITY.

Watch out: don't mix water from an un-sanitary source with potable or sanitary drinking water. Doing so risks cross-contamination of the entire plumbing system. If your property includes both potable and non-potable water supplies, be sure to keep their piping and storage facilities completely isolated from one another.

Looking Ahead to Part II of Digging a Well in Oaxaca

In my next and final installment, I deal with issues such as flow rate, biological analysis, decorative brickwork and custom iron cover, ongoing issues relating to structural integrity, and matters such as pumps and piping, the additional cistern, and whatever else it takes to conclude such an endeavor.

 

Continue reading at WELL FLOW RATE or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see HAND DUG WELL PROCEDURE article start

Suggested citation for this web page

DUG WELL POTABILITY TEST at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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