Wells and Septic Systems

Do you have a well and a septic system? Then you may be concerned about the possibility that fluids or bacteria from your septic system could enter your well. While such contamination is unlikely, this article identifies the signs you should watch out for.

A Well and Septic System: The Issues

Because having a well (a private water system) and a septic system can cause some unique problems, it is important to understand how a well impacts the efficacy of a septic system. A well can impact a septic system's effectiveness in three ways:

Well Water Systems There are three (3) types of well systems: dug wells, bored wells, and drilled wells. A dug well produces water from shallow surface aquifers, an underground formation of permeable rock or loose material. These types of wells are shallow in comparison to drilled wells. Bored wells are usually constructed when low-yielding groundwater sources are found relatively close to the surface Drilled wells are more costly than dug wells and bored wells, however they provide safer drinking water, as they draw water from deeper aquifers, so there is less chance of contamination.

Well Water Quality As wells draw water from aquifers, zones of saturated permeable soil or rock, water quality may be affected.

Well Water Quantity The type of aquifer will determine if a well can support high pressure pumping rates needed to support a septic system.

Issues to Watch Out For

Wells can be susceptible to contamination from surface water infiltration as both wells and septic tanks are so close to the surface. If your septic system is creating bad smells it can be an indication that your septic system may be contaminating your well water. To find out if your well water is contaminated, have your local Health Department test the soil for contaminants. However, this is very rare in a Health Department-approved septic system design.

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