9.1 Water Quality

With respect to water quality, surveys commonly find that more than 40 percent of domestic wells exceed drinking water guidelines, indicating that they continue to represent a significant public health risk. This is a preventable problem that can be corrected with better support to domestic well owners for both water quality monitoring and water treatment.

Current research suggests a combination of actions are needed to meet this objective, including more appropriate levels of regulations for domestic well testing and water treatment, improved education and outreach programs, which consider vulnerable socio-economic populations and local face-to-face engagement with well owners, and making water quality testing easy and inexpensive. There is also a need for additional large-scale, long-term water quality monitoring initiatives for domestic wells to better understand the risk of contaminant exposure and inform policies for improving the safety of domestic wells. Most domestic well water quality surveys are currently limited in geographic scope, surveillance period, and the suite of contaminants tested.

Microbial contaminants, arsenic, and fluoride are among the highest priority contaminants in domestic wells because of their significant health effects and widespread occurrence. In order to reduce the impact of these contaminants on domestic well owners, we need new reliable, user-friendly and low-cost ways to test, monitor, and treat them. Because of the extent of the public health crisis caused by arsenic, researchers have called for all domestic wells worldwide to be tested for arsenic. They have also recommended that testing be encouraged through policy changes, such as mandatory water quality testing, and by making testing easy, accessible, and free (Zheng, 2020; Zheng and Flanagan, 2017).


Domestic Wells – Introduction and Overview Copyright © 2022 by John Drage. All Rights Reserved.