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The Best Water Treatment System for Well Water

The key to determining the best water treatment system for your well water is to test the water. County water or health departments can test your water or refer you to a reputable laboratory. In most cases, well water has high levels of dissolved minerals (hard water) and will require softening to give water suitable for drinking and washing. Tests will determine if you need treatment for biological or chemical contaminants.

Testing

Water sample tests will identify the amount of dissolved minerals in your well water. Well water usually has calcium, iron and manganese with levels ranging from soft (less than 17.1 parts per million-ppm) to very hard (over 180 ppm). Tests look for waterborne pathogens (disease-carrying organisms), often from leaking septic systems or run-off from livestock. They also look for dangerous chemical or metal contaminants, such as pesticides, fertilizers and metals, including lead, boron and mercury.

Water Softeners

Most well water requires softening to reduce the levels of dissolved minerals in the water. Commercial water softeners are divided into salt and non-salt systems. Each replaces mineral ions with salt (or a salt replacement) ions, making the water taste better and stain less.

Water softening systems are a cost-effective way to treat all of the well water coming into your house. Many users add carbon-based filters at the kitchen sink to further filter the water, making it taste and smell more palatable for drinking and cooking.

Biological Contaminants

If testing reveals biological contaminants, your water must be disinfected. Depending on the contaminants discovered, treatment options include Ultra-Violet (UV) exposure, which passes water through a chamber where UV light kills the pathogens. Other options include diffusing a disinfectant gas, such as chlorine or ozone--as used in most municipal treatment systems--into the water.

The level and type of biological contaminant will determine your best disinfectant treatment

Chemical Contaminants

For dangerous levels of chemical (including dangerous metals) contaminants, the best treatment options will usually be ultra-filtration systems, up to Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtration.

Again, your specific contaminant will determine the amount of filtration required. The rule of thumb is the greater the amount of filtration required--how small are the items to be filtered out of the water--the greater the cost or the lower the volume processed.

Post-testing

Regardless of the treatment system you choose and regardless of your local testing requirements, test your system after it is installed.

If you have treatment for biological or chemical contaminants, test your system no less than twice each year to ensure your treatment is keeping your drinking water safe.

About the Author

Chris Donahue is an electrical engineer living in the Dallas area. He has worked on defense projects, semiconductor process equipment, instrumentation and is currently in water utilities. He earned his Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) standing in Texas in 1999.