If testing shows your private well water is unsafe, Connecticut residents should immediately find an alternative source of drinking water.
The easiest way to achieve this is to purchase bottled water or carry water from a safe supply. Next, the source of the water contamination should be identified and eliminated, if possible. The well should be upgraded or the casing replaced, if necessary.
Water in CT wells may be treated to reduce or eliminate some contaminants that cause a health risk.
Treatment alternatives include:
- conditioning (water softening)
Different methods are appropriate for different types of contaminants and some are more effective than others.
CT residents should consider whether the water is being treated to reduce or remove contaminants that present a health risk or those that merely make the water unpalatable. The per-gallon cost of water treatment must be weighed against the total amount of water needed, the availability of another water source, and the cost of purchasing water.
Disinfection by chemicals, heat, or light is effective in killing bacteria found in water, but does not remove nitrate. Shock or continuous chlorination, boiling, and ultraviolet light may all disinfect water supplies contaminated with living organisms, but will not reduce levels of minerals, metals, or man-made chemicals. Distillation will disinfect water and reduce levels of many contaminants.
Boiling water contaminated with bacteria is recommended, but boiling water contaminated with both bacteria and nitrate is not safe. Boiling increases the level of nitrate because nitrate is not a living organism that can be killed through disinfection. Thus, the remaining water contains a greater concentration of nitrate than it did before boiling.
Distillation, reverse osmosis, or an iron exchange unit (not water softeners) can reduce nitrate levels. Filtration does not remove nitrate, nor does allowing the water to stand in a container. This should all be considered when you planning corrective measures.