©2018 Mahoning Valley Water Inc.  Bacteria and Water Wells Part II      Our last issue discussed the different forms of bacteria and how they an get into a well.  This issue will address testing for bacteria and the different methods for removing it. Bacteria Testing      All water wells should be tested annually for the presence of bacteria or after maintenance or replacement work has been completed on the well.  Wells should also be tested any time a change in taste, odor, or appearance is noticed.      Do-it-yourself bacteria testing kits are now on the market for about $20 - $25.  It is important to follow directions.  A bacteria test by a certified laboratory usually costs between $35 and $45.  If a technician visits your home to collect the sample, the testing fee is likely to be higher.  Testing is also available from our local health departments for a small fee. Test Results      A sample reported "safe" or "negative" means that coliform were not found in the sample.  If the water sample was taken correctly, you  can be reasonably sure that the water is suitable for drinking and general domestic use.  When a sample is reported "unsafe" or "positive", it means that coliform were found and that the well may have been affected by surface or near-surface waters.  To b e on the safe side, consider the water supply to be a health risk, and until you have found out where the problem originates, you should not consume the water until it has been boiled first.      The first thing you should do with an "unsafe" or "positive" reading is to retake the sample.  If the second sample also comes back with coliform, you need to try to determine the source of the contamination and disinfect the well. Disinfecting Water Wells      Well disinfection kits are available for disinfecting your well for $20- $25.  The directions should be followed carefully to ensure a complete disinfection.      Wells can also be disinfected by using liquid household bleach.  Only plain household bleach should be used.  Do not use bleaches that have scents.  These have additives that may interfere with the disinfecting properties of the chlorine.  The Ohio Department of Health suggests the following method to disinfect water wells when using liquid household bleach: Remove the well cap. Pour one gallon of household bleach (5.25% chlorine) directly into the well. Connect a hose to a house spigot and run the water directly into the well until you can smell chlorine in the water.  Run the water this way for about 15 minutes. Shut the hose off and open each faucet inside the house until you smell chlorine.  Include both hot and cold fixtures and don't forget to run your clothes washer and dishwasher. Close all valves and faucets and pour another gallon of bleach into the well.  Leave all the valves closed for a minimum of 12hours. Open each faucets and let the water run until the chlorine smell is gone.  It is recommended that faucet strainers be removed before running the water. Your well should now be properly sanitized.  Wait ten days and have the water retested.      If the contamination is in the well or plumbing system, it should be removed by the sanitizing process.  If the problem persists, it is recommended that all attempts be made to solve the problem by sanitizing the well, ensuring that the well construction is in good order and that potential nearby contamination sources are removed before investing in water treatment equipment. Treatment Techniques      Bacteria are most effectively eliminated from drinking water by chlorine disinfection, filtration, ultraviolet irradiation, or ozonation.  All of the methods require careful attention to equipment selection.  Make sure that the water equipment  salesperson is knowledgeable and that the company specializes in water treatment.  Some bacteria treatment devices do not work properly if certain minerals are present.  Water treatment is not a "one size fits all" operation.  Once installed, it is very important to adhere to the equipment maintenance schedule. Filters      Filtration can not readily remove bacteria from drinking water.  Fine filtration can be a very effective means of straining out large organisms like protozoan cysts and worm eggs, but it needs to be complimented with a disinfection method. Chlorine      Disinfectant-dispersing equipment should be automatic, require minimal maintenance, and treat all the water entering the home.  There are many devices available for dispensing doses of chlorine.  Some operate by releasing pellets into the well, others inject a chlorine solution into the water line.  Chlorine is the most widely used method in the United States. for disinfecting municipal and individual water supplies.  It destroys bacteria by oxidizing their internal enzymes. Ultraviolet      Ultraviolet irradiation will kill bacteria by creating photochemical changes in its DNA.  Most ultraviolet water treatment units consists of one or more ultraviolet lamps enclosed by a quartz sleeve around which the water flows.  The effectiveness of UV irradiation depends on the intensity of the light, depth of exposure and contact time.  Water passes in a relatively thin layer around the lamp; therefore, water flow must be regulated to ensure that all organisms receive adequate exposure.  If the water is at all dirty, or if it contains traces of iron, the effectiveness of UV is greatly reduced or may not work at all.  In such cases, the water need to be treated and filtered before it reaches the UV system. Ozone      Ozone, a triatomic form of oxygen, has been used in water treatment since 1903.  It adds no chemicals to the water.  Ozone cannot be stored and requires an on-site ozone generator.  In general, ozonation equipment and operating costs are higher that other treatment procedures. Where To Go For Advice      County Health Departments have trained staff who can provide advice to consumers and homeowners about water quality issues.  Agricultural Extension Service personnel also provide information.      EPA Drinking Water Hotline - The EPA provides general information about Federal Drinking Water regulations and guidelines.  800-426-4791      Water Quality Association - The WQA maintains a register of information on effectiveness of water treatment processes and equipment. 630-505-0160 or www.wqa.org.           Libraries - Most libraries have information in their reference sections that can provide background about bacteria.         Colleges and Universities - At universities and colleges that focus on water resources, environmental engineering or community health issues, research and teaching faculty members may have useful information related to aquifer protection, water wells, and water treatment. MAHONING VALLEY WATER