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The water in our well is fairly acidic (PH 5.6). The only filtration that it has is one of those generic single stage water filter systems. We also have had occasional problems with heavy rain causing ground water contamination. When it does this the water gets cloudy and tests positive for coliform bacteria.

I've been treating it with Chlorox when this happens and then drain the well for 12 hours or so, basically a couple hours after a pool test kit has shown no chlorine is present.

I looked into getting the well sealed, but a camera in the well showed there are big enough cracks in the drill hole that the well guy didn't think a liner would necessarily fix things.

I've looked at getting a better water filtration system including a UV light to kill any bateria. I'd also like to neutralize the acidity of the well water. I understand that one problem repeatedly chlorinating a well is that there are carcinogenic compounds this creates. Does anyone know what the carcinogenic compounds are and if can I get them tested for? I'm concerned that treating the well with a strong base will have a similar effect to chlorinating it. Hopefully calcite won't generate these carcinogenic compounds.

-Eric

  • I don't know how much help we can be. Water treatment is a specialized science that starts with a water analysis. At the very least we have a "GIGO" problem, where without the results of that analysis, it wouldn't matter if we were all water treatment chemists - we lack the necessary data. For a general armwave answer, this. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 5 '19 at 20:54
  • From what the well guy said the carcinogens were due to organic material in the water. Wouldn't really be a problem with chlorinated "city water" because that type of stuff is filtered out when chlorine is added. – Eric Aug 5 '19 at 21:21
  • chlorine and ammonia mixed creates harmful chloramines, which could damage DNA, which can lead to cancer. if you can use calcium, that would be good; a veritable soda spring. – dandavis Aug 5 '19 at 21:47
  • What kind or well is this? Is it a surface well where you could drop a bucket into it ? That type would need serious water treatment because of surface water entry. If it is a drilled hole with an electric pump , new steel casing ,properly installed will stop any surface water. Then water quality will depend only on the conditions of the water in the aquifer. – blacksmith37 Aug 6 '19 at 0:18
  • It's a drilled well with a pump, similar to the way most houses outside city limits work. The problem with the steel casing is that the water is coming in fairly high in the well. If you put a casing all the way to the bottom, you'd stop the water supply. If you stop it part way there's a chance the groundwater would just run down the outside of the casing until it got into the well water. We could drill the well deeper, but you never know what you'll find. The well produces a lot of water, rates at 20 gallons per minute. Although one well guy thought that rating might be low. – Eric Aug 6 '19 at 14:56
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Clorinated organic compounds. Some are carcinogens. Some are nerve toxins. That said, a well run chlorinator thatfilters the water first for organic matter then puts a 1-2 ppm residual chlorine level in the water is not very toxic. Cities have done this for a very longtime.

UV treatment works too, and is the route I would go.

a pH of 5.6 isn't very acidic. Remember that pH is a log scale. This is a level typical of eastern hardwood forests.

But I would get a full water analysis done. Here (Alberta) we can get a sample bottle at our local public health office. The analysis is free.

Take that and find out what needs to be done.

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  • I've had a full water analysis done by the county a month ago. Currently there's no coliform bacteria and the only thing that doesn't meet specs is the acidity. The problem with the acidity is that it attacks the plumbing from the inside. We have blue stains around some brass fixtures due to this. Note the well water itself doesn't have a lot of copper in it, but because of the acidity it's leaching it from the fixtures. – Eric Aug 6 '19 at 14:59
  • This link: cleanwaterstore.com/resource/how-to-guides/… has some information about neutralizing acidity. – Sherwood Botsford Aug 7 '19 at 19:31
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It may take a combination of chlorine and UV. Several years back my well guy had me install both a UV and bleach injection system the UV was simple it just needed 120v. The bleach injection system worked with standard unscented bleach and a 300 or possibly a 500 gallon reservoir. It used a small programmable logic controller and several sensors and a tiny pump to control the bleach injection. I asked him about the tablet augers that put grains of dry chlorine in the well and he told me those were no longer legal we needed to mix the chlorine in a tank and not in the ground like we used to. Having seen folks get sick from fecal coliform and having lived on a farm that had direct chlorine into the well I would want that system to prevent any chance of that you can smell the chlorine yes but we never got sick.

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I think that I've found the answer to my question at this website. It lists the following compounds:

Disinfection Byproducts: A Reference Resource

Disinfection byproducts are formed when disinfectants used in water treatment plants react with bromide and/or natural organic matter (i.e., decaying vegetation) present in the source water. Different disinfectants produce different types or amounts of disinfection byproducts. Disinfection byproducts for which regulations have been established have been identified in drinking water, including trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, bromate, and chlorite.


Trihalomethanes (THM) are a group of four chemicals that are formed along with other disinfection byproducts when chlorine or other disinfectants used to control microbial contaminants in drinking water react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter in water. The trihalomethanes are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform. EPA has published the Stage 1 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule to regulate total trihalomethanes (TTHM) at a maximum allowable annual average level of 80 parts per billion. This standard will replace the current standard of a maximum allowable annual average level of 100 parts per billion in December 2001 for large surface water public water systems. The standard will become effective for the first time in December 2003 for small surface water and all ground water systems.


Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) are a group of chemicals that are formed along with other disinfection byproducts when chlorine or other disinfectants used to control microbial contaminants in drinking water react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter in water. The regulated haloacetic acids, known as HAA5, are: monochloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid, and dibromoacetic acid. EPA has published the Stage 1 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule to regulate HAA5 at 60 parts per billion annual average. This standard will become effective for large surface water public water systems in December 2001 and for small surface water and all ground water public water systems in December 2003.


Bromate is a chemical that is formed when ozone used to disinfect drinking water reacts with naturally occurring bromide found in source water. EPA has established the Stage 1 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule to regulate bromate at annual average of 10 parts per billion in drinking water. This standard will become effective for large public water systems by December 2001 and for small surface water and all ground public water systems in December 2003.


Chlorite is a byproduct formed when chlorine dioxide is used to disinfect water. EPA has published the Stage 1 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule to regulate chlorite at a monthly average level of 1 part per million in drinking water. This standard will become effective for large surface water public water systems in December 2001 and for small surface water and all ground water public water systems in December 2003.

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