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NGWA releases study on potential cost of pathogen-contaminated wells


November 11, 2020
By National Ground Water Association

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Westerville, Ohio – The National Ground Water Association recently released a study outlining the financial and health benefits of testing and disinfecting private waters wells.

The white paper, Well Owner Disinfection Decisions Affected by Pathogenic Contamination, reports the cost of protective well testing and disinfection in water wells is substantially less than the medical treatment and lost wages stemming from becoming ill due to pathogenic contamination.

Microbial contamination of wells can result from human and animal fecal contamination carried to a well from many sources, including floodwater, waste lagoon seepage, septage and sewerage leaks and pasturage runoff. Pathogen-contaminated wells are often associated with large-scale flooding and adverse weather such as hurricanes and tropical storms.

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The health and financial cost of a contaminated water system can be steep. Health effects of diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and even death can result from pathogens causing waterborne illness. If a person does become sick with a severe microbial infection the estimated cost can be $11,910 to $12,690 for treatment, hospitalization, and lost wages, compared to the well safety cost of $570 to $1,395 for well testing and disinfection.

“Many well owners who experience flooded wells from extreme weather do not have their wells tested, which may be a free service offered by some states after such events,” noted Chuck Job, NGWA regulatory affairs manager and report author. “The percent of private well samples testing positive for E. coli and coliform is significant and suggest that protective actions, including well disinfection, are warranted if wells are flooded and are cost-effective when considering potential adverse outcomes of illness and lost income.”

Infographic: National Ground Water Association

To bring more awareness to the benefits of properly testing and disinfecting private water wells, NGWA has created an easy-to-understand infographic that it will be sharing on social media and with water well contractors across the country. (Click here to view — and download — the image at its full size.)

Private water wells owners are encouraged to visit WellOwner.org for more information on how to test, tend, and treat their water system and to find certified local contractors in their area.

For more information or additional comments, please contact Ben Frech at bfrech@ngwa.org or call 614-898-7791, ext. 1570.