Local News

April 17, 2014

Change of season means check wells

PLATTSBURGH — Spring is a smart time to have private wells tested for contamination.

“With warming weather and melting snow resulting in spring runoff, private (individual home) well owners should ensure their drinking water is safe for families and pets,” the Clinton County Health Department advised in a release. 

“Wells may be contaminated with waterborne pathogens (germs) that can cause serious illness,” said Judy Ross, senior sanitarian with the Health Department’s Environmental Health and Safety Division. 

“For families on a community water supply, this is less of a concern because of regulations and ongoing water testing and monitoring for possible contaminants.”

But wells can be contaminated from many sources, including fuel oil, the release said, or other chemical products that can infiltrate the system from home oil tanks, agricultural activities and surface-water sources. 

Homeowners should check and maintain their wells on a regular basis and sample the water at least once a year, the Health Department said. 

“Spring is the ideal time for routine water sampling because problems may be detected that are not obvious during other seasons.”

And water-quality testing is important for periodic evaluation of well-water quality, the release said. 

The Health Department recommends testing for coliform bacteria every year and to periodically re-test for other well-specific constituents of concern. 

All samples should be analyzed by a certified laboratory, the release said. 


A contaminated well should be properly disinfected with chlorine. After it has been flushed out of the water system, the water should be tested to make sure the contamination has been removed. 

If a chlorine odor persists, additional flushing may be needed; it could be several days before the chlorine has left the system and testing can be done.

Until testing shows the water is free of contamination, people should use bottled water or disinfect the well water for drinking and food preparation. 

Consider retesting the well water again after several weeks, the release said. If flooding and groundwater contamination is extensive, the well may be susceptible to recontamination for some time.

WELL SAFETY Learn more about well safety at or call the Clinton County Health Department at 565-4870. The Health Department can also provide a list of certified testing laboratories.

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