Drinking Water Well Quality Basics

Drinking Water and Human Health December 20, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF

Groundwater, the source of water for private wells, is never simply a pure combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms (H20). It contains many impurities, reflecting the composition of the soils, sand, gravel, and rock through which it travels. Groundwater naturally contains:

  1. Dissolved minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, chloride, and sulfate
  2. Gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen
  3. Dissolved organic compounds
As a result of human activity, groundwater can also contain contaminants such as pesticides, nitrate, metals, and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Any chemicals that are used or disposed of (purposely or accidentally) on the land surface have the potential to find their way into groundwater supplies.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.