Private Well Hot Topics -
- National Groundwater Awareness Week: March 10-16, 2013 -
National Groundwater Awareness Week is an annual observance sponsored by the National Groundwater Association. This week brings attention to the importance of groundwater as a valuable resource. The observance also stresses the importance of for yearly private well water testing and well maintenance to understand the quality of the water you use and to prevent water borne diseases. Learn more about Groundwater Awareness Week. Read the IDNR press release.
- Now Available - On-line Private Well Classes for the Homeowner and Well User -
The Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center at the University of Illinois are pleased to announce a new nationwide training initiative funded by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The training will includes classes for those who own or use private water supply wells. The Private Well Classes are designed to help a homeowner and well user understand the basic science of water wells and inform them of best practices to maintain and protect the water supply. These basic tools can help ensure a safe drinking water supply and extend the life of the well.
The classes are part of an online learning experience that includes monthly emails with class lessons that will be reinforced by monthly webinars you can attend as often as you wish - even after the emailed class materials have ended. Click here to find out how the class works.
- Help protect your ground water: Plug any unused or unneeded water wells -
Old water supply wells can be a hazard to personal safety and to groundwater. Abandoned wells that are left un-plugged pose a risk to our groundwater supplies and our active water wells because they can be a direct pathway for poor quality contaminated water to enter our deeper and more protected aquifers. Help protect the groundwater used by your family and others by plugging your old unneeded wells. To find out more about well plugging and participating in a grant program to help pay for a portion of well plugging on your property, please visit our well plugging information page.
- Notice to Homeowners, Water Well Drillers and GHEX Loop Borehole Contractors -
In Iowa, the installation of geothermal boreholes, water supply wells and all well pump installation and well repair services require that an Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor be present on-site at all times when all well services take place. You can find out more about well services and the certification requirements by viewing our Certification and Contractor Certification web pages.
You may also find our Frequently Asked Questions document helpful in learning more about certification requirements.
- Important information about the occurrence of Arsenic in groundwater and water wells -
Recent concern about arsenic in drinking water has left many
homeowners wondering, “Should I test my water for the presence of arsenic?” If your drinking water is provided by a city or town, these municipalities are required to perform testing on an ongoing basis to ensure water is safe to drink, and there would be no need for private individuals to test for arsenic in this situation. Public water supplies provide an annual water quality report to their customers.
Read the Iowa DNR "Arsenic in Iowa's Drinking Water" Information Sheet
If your drinking water comes from a private well we recommend that the water be checked at least once a year for coliform bacteria and nitrate to ensure that the water is safe to drink. In addition to testing for bacteria and nitrate levels, drinking water can also be tested for arsenic. If you are concerned about arsenic levels in well water, contact the State Hygienic Laboratory (1-800-421-IOWA) or your local county sanitarian and ask for a test kit to test the water for arsenic. Analysis of drinking water for arsenic can be performed by any Safe Water Drinking Act Laboratory certified for arsenic testing by the Iowa DNR. Contact your local county environmental health office or the Iowa DNR for additional information.
Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rocks and soil. You can find additional information about arsenic by reading the private well arsenic guidance found on the Water Supply Wells web page.
There are treatment options available for well water that is determined to have elevated levels of arsenic. Information about this contaminant and water treatment options can be found in a State Hygienic Laboratory information booklet named "Well Water Quality and Home Treatment System." Additional information about analysis of your drinking water can be found on the on the home page of the State Hygienic Laboratory website found at the following web site: www.shl.iowa.edu.
Additional information on water treatment options available for arsenic as well as other common well contaminants can be found in the State Hygienic Laboratory brochure titled "Well Water Quality and Home Treatment Systems."
Additional information on arsenic in drinking water is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Source - State Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa
Is your water safe to drink?
When was the last time that you had your private water system sampled and tested?
Did you know health organizations recommend that you test your water system yearly?
The Iowa DNR has guidance available to help you understand the importance of sampling and testing your private water system. Check out our "Frequently Asked Questions About Private Drinking Water".
East-central Iowa Silurian Aquifer Groundwater Study and Predictive Model Completed
The Silurian Aquifer is an important groundwater resource for a number of mid-western states. The DNR Iowa Geological and Water Survey (IGWS) recently completed a groundwater study and predictive model for the Silurian aquifer in east-central Iowa. Information from thousands of well records, hundreds of water production tests, current and historic water levels, and water withdrawal records were incorporated into a groundwater model. The completed and tested model will give estimates of the changes in water levels into the future for a wide range of anticipated or possible future demands.
“The Silurian aquifer is an important groundwater source in eastern Iowa,” said Mike Gannon, an IGWS research geologist who coordinated development of the model. “It’s widely used by cities, industries, farms and rural communities, and also supplies geothermal wells.”
As the study was being completed, the model was used to assist Marion and Coralville in assessing long-term additions to their water supplies.
The Silurian study follows work done on the Dakota aquifer in northwest Iowa, shallow alluvial aquifers in several parts of Iowa, and the deep Jordan aquifer across the state.
“This effort is the key to long term management of our underground water supplies” says Iowa’s State Geologist Bob Libra. “The decisions we make about water development today will be with us for decades, and this work helps assure the investments made for water will pay off for the long run. The studies will also allow us to assess and predict the impacts of developing drought conditions in western Iowa.”
View the aquifer report here.
View the Iowa Geological and Water Survey web site at: http://www.igsb.uiowa.edu
Based on IDNR’s EcoNewsWire News report on January 23, 2012
Attention drinking water well users who live in areas of Karst terrain -
The Iowa DNR has basic information available to help you understand contamination
concerns in shallow groundwater sources found in areas of Karst terrain. This information is available in the "Special Considerations for Drinking Water Wells located in Karst Bedrock Conditions" section on the Water Supply Wells web page.
The Iowa DNR Private Water Well Program
Welcome to the Iowa DNR Private Well Program web site. The Private Well Program provides regulatory oversight for a number of different types of well structures and borings that are used to access the groundwater or the thermal properties of the ground.
These well structures include:
- Private potable water supply wells like private drinking water wells. This includes any water supply that does not meet the requirements to be regulated as a Public Water Supply.
- Private non-potable wells used in industry like: Commercial water supply wells like plant process water supplies; cooling tower water supplies; and any other water well that supplies water for non-potable use.
- Irrigation wells for all uses including row crop irrigation, watering truck gardens; water supplies for turf production and home yard irrigation.
- Test and observation wells to determine the quality of the groundwater or to monitor water groundwater levels.
- Temporary or permanent dewatering wells used to artificially lower water tables for new and existing construction.
- Geothermal water supply and reinjection wells used to exchange heat from a structure to the groundwater.
- Geothermal Heat Exchange (GHEX) loop boreholes used to exchange heat from a structure with the earth.
If you supply drinking water from a well, it is important for you to know that the Private Well Program rules only apply to those water supply wells and systems that serve fewer than 25 individuals on a daily basis. If a well system provides water to at least 15 service connections (like campground spaces or rural condos) or serves at least 25 individuals at least 60 days per year, the system may be a Public Water Supply. Other examples of systems that meet the Public Water Supply definition include rural churches, rural restaurants and bars, and any other place where the public gathers or conducts business and 25 or more individuals have access to the water for 60 or more days during a year.
Public Water Supplies have specific federally mandated requirements to help protect public health. The requirements address well and water system design and construction that follows approved specifications and standards as determined by the Iowa DNR Water Supply Engineering section. In addition, a Public Water Supply must also manage and monitor the water system according to an operation permit issued by the Iowa DNR Water Supply Operations section. To find out if you are a Public Water Supply or for more information regarding Public Water Supply requirements, contact the IDNR Water Supply sections at 515-725-0282.
The Private Well Program provides administrative oversight of the statewide well program. This includes rule oversight, development, and interpretation for private well program related rules, working cooperatively with local county governments to administer the private well program at a local level, and providing guidance to the questions asked by contractors and citizens.
The goals of the Iowa DNR Private Well Program are to:
- Protect the groundwater resources and public health by requiring construction standards and contractor certification for all boreholes that meet the definition of "well."
- Provide a source for accurate and meaningful guidance to help answer questions pertaining to the private well program areas.
To help achieve the program goals the Private Well Program works with local county environmental health staff to issue private well construction permits at the local level. This relationship is a very important part of the program and helps to ensure that there are local contacts to provide well construction permitting and support for the local residents. The program goals are to have all private wells constructed to appropriate minimum standards and that competent Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractors are on-site in direct control of each well service provided.
The local county permitting authority will issue you a local and state private well construction permit based on a single application. The state private well construction permit is issued through the use of a web based private well permitting system named the Private Well Tracking System or PWTS. This allows the local county immediate access to issue state private well construction permits.
The Private Well Program also works with the Iowa DNR Operator Certification Section to help Certified Well Contractors with their certification questions and testing, and helps training providers determine if a training event will qualify for continuing education units (CEUs) or "contact hours" for well contractor certification.
There are other information pages available for the private well program that you may find beneficial. You can find additional topics in the left hand column of this page under the "Private Well Program" heading. At the bottom of this page you will find a number of links that provide information for commonly asked private water supply questions. If you find that you have questions that are not covered by these web pages, please contact us using the information at the bottom of this page.
The links below and in the left hand banner will provide you with additional important information regarding the private well program in Iowa.
- For additional information contact -
Environmental Specialist Senior
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
401 SW 7th Street, Suite M
Des Moines, IA 50309