Water from your own domestic well: Can you drink well water?

For showering, as service water or also as drinking water – the supply of well water through one’s own domestic well is trending. Especially in rural regions, wells are widespread and offer a good alternative to water from the public distribution network. In the following, we clarify the most important questions concerning your own well water.

Can I drink my own well water?

In principle, yes. However, the well water must be clean, and so clean that it complies with the Drinking Water Ordinance. The water obtained from your own domestic well usually consists of groundwater, which is also used to a large extent for the public water supply via the waterworks. The quality of the groundwater in the region therefore plays a decisive role in the question “Is it safe to drink well water? A water analysis for well water provides quick assurance here and should be part of the maintenance and hygiene plan of every privately operated well system.

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Drinking water wells? Only with guaranteed quality: Well operators are liable themselves!

If we draw our water from our own domestic well, there is a particularly clear difference to the supply via the public drinking water network:
If we receive drinking water via the public suppliers, it has already been meticulously checked before it reaches the households. Contamination that already occurs in the waterworks, or pollution that occurs on the way to the consumer, is therefore extremely rare. The water suppliers guarantee the quality of the water, which must comply with the Drinking Water Ordinance, right up to the water meter at home.
These stringent controls do not take place when the water is supplied by one’s own drinking water well. Here, too, especially if the water is passed on to third parties such as tenants, the drinking water quality must comply with the applicable guidelines and laws of the Drinking Water Ordinance. However, this quality is not automatically given: The extracted groundwater must be checked and, if necessary, treated. In case any harm is caused, the well operator is liable.

How does well water become drinking water?

In order for well water to be declared and made available as drinking water, well water testing is essential. The following applies:

  • Once a year, well water should be tested for microbiological parameters.
    Physical parameters should be tested at least every three years.

To ensure that the water is of the best quality during the obligatory tests, well operators should also test their well water regularly outside the recommended cycle. In case of contaminated water samples, a water treatment expert should be consulted afterwards.

How can I recognize bad well water?

If the well water is dirty, e.g. brown, cloudy or milky, or smells foul or musty, you should be careful and have it analyzed before drinking it. Well water that looks rusty, red or reddish (it often smells of iron) can also be dangerous if the iron content is too high (200 mg/l or more).
Microorganisms can also easily settle in the pipe system due to the iron hydroxide deposits. High iron contents in groundwater are often found in swampy areas.
The importance of a critical examination of one’s own well water is shown not least by the activities of the VSR Water Protection Association. The association conducts about 5,000 water analyses every year. In more than two thirds of the samples analyzed, the nitrate concentration was above the limit value of the Drinking Water Ordinance of 50 milligrams per liter. Nitrate is a major problem caused mainly by fertilizing fields in agriculture. Heavy metals and aluminium are also frequently problematic factors.

Is there an obligation to test one’s own well water?

A well owner who produces drinking water must ensure that it complies with the provisions of the Drinking Water Ordinance. Especially landlords who also pass on their well water to third parties are obliged to do so. You must carry out the above-mentioned tests by means of a water analysis at least once a year in order to ensure contaminant-free drinking water.Testing your well water is easy and not expensive. You order the test online, take a sample of your water with the enclosed instructions and send it to us. Your sample is immediately analyzed in an accredited German laboratory and the results, including recommendations for action, are made available to you online.

Are babies and small children at risk?

Babies and small children react particularly strongly to contamination and pollution in drinking water. A high nitrate content or coliform bacteria (e.g. from agriculture) are especially dangerous. We have summarised everything on this topic for you in the article “Nitrate in drinking water”.

Using well water in the garden: Watering plants and flowers

Even if the primary purpose is not to drink the well water but to irrigate home-grown fruit and vegetables or to water plants and flowers, the water quality is of importance. Various substances, especially bacteria, can contaminate the vegetable plants through the water and enter the body through the consumption of the plants. Water analyses are therefore not only useful if you want to drink your well water.
Bacteria and germs are also a problem when filling pools. The iron content also plays a role here, after all, you want to bathe in clear pool water.

Filtering well water: How to improve the quality of your well water

Do you carry out regular water analyses and receive results showing polluted water? A well water treatment might help. You can buy various water filtration systems in specialized shops. Larger, permanently installed systems filter the water, e.g. by means of reverse osmosis, before it is fed into the house piping system. Smaller systems are installed directly at a single tap and filter the water right before it flows out of the tap.

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