Brian Oram is the founder of KnowYourH2O.com, a licensed geologist, a soil scientist, and a licensed well driller in Pennsylvania.
For 30 years, I have worked in wellhead protection for public water systems, private well owner outreach, drinking water quality, groundwater quality, and Water Treatment.
In many cases, the weakest and most vulnerable part of a public and private water supply system is the well and the wellhead. The wellhead is typically the portion of the well that extends above grade but may also include the part of the well that is exposed in a well pit.
To protect well and groundwater quality, there are several concerns:
1. Standard and even sanitary well caps are relatively easy to remove with hand tools, and once removed, there is no evidence that the cap had been taken off. For example, we have had private and public wells vandalized by individuals pouring down oil, adding salt, and putting mud/clay down the well hole.
2. Locking well caps are only as secure as the lock, and it is difficult to determine that a lock has been broken without going directly to the wellhead.
3. For wells drilled in areas subject to inundation by flooding, there are only a few ways to manage the impact of flooding and inundation.
Standard methods include:
• Raising the top of the well casing above the flood elevation,
• Adding a well spool/ pressure cap and extending the well vent above the flood level,
• Adding a controlled overflow that has a screen and backflow device,
• Adding a "Well Buster Flowing Artesian Well Packer," and
• Drilling a new well out of the floodplain or floodway.
In an emergency, there is typically insufficient time to make these modifications to a system to secure the well and groundwater project. However, we can potentially MINIMIZE this impact in an emergency with a WellSeal™.
4. When new water wells or monitoring wells are being installed, they are only fitted with standard well caps or plugs, and during this phase, the well may be vulnerable to vandalism.
To address each of these issues, install a WellSeal.
WellSeal is an innovative new product designed for securing your well. Its brilliance lies in its simplicity. It's basically a shrink wrap seal similar to what you would find covering the top of a medicine container used for the same purpose - to know if there has been any tampering - in this case, with your well.
It's not a vulnerability that comes to mind, but the more you think about it, it makes sense - a wellhead is typically left exposed, giving anyone access to one of your most valuable resources - your drinking water. However, with a WellSeal, this is no longer the case. WellSeal gives a visible indication if the wellhead has been accessed.
The seal is easily applied with a heat gun which WellSeal also offers. The seal material comes in various colors. Depending on the color you choose, the seal may stand out for easy visibility or blend in with a color that matches its surrounding.
WellSeal is a product that professional installers can use as an added customer value. An additional benefit for the installer is that their company logo and information can be added to the seal. The installer's contact info serves as a reminder for the current homeowner or as a helpful resource for a new owner in the event the well needs to be serviced or repaired. WellSeal is also available to purchase directly by homeowners.
WellSeal does not create an airtight or watertight seal but can provide an additional barrier to inhibit water movement into and down the well casing if the well is inundated. Due to the nature of most water well construction, the top of the well is fitted with a cap that may have conduits, fasteners, plugs, and vents, which would prevent the WellSeal from making a watertight seal."
Please remember the effectiveness of this seal also requires that the well cap and all service lines must be properly installed, maintained, tightened, and sealed. If we are looking for ways to minimize the impacts in an emergency and provide a solution to address well tampering and vandalism, WellSeal is the Solution.
The KnowYourH20 Team was contacted by a homeowner with a private well that complained of discolored water. We inspected the well and discovered that the well cap was very loose, and there were grass clippings and bugs under the well cap and the upper portion of the well casing. We Shock-Disinfected the well twice, added a sanitary well cap, and installed a WellSeal. There were no more issues when we retested in 30 days. When we returned to check the well after the grass cutting season, we removed the WellSeal – NO Bugs and NO Grass Clippings and a negative test for Total Coliform Bacteria.
Are you looking for peace of mind about the security of your drinking water well? I recommend two actions.
1. Get your drinking water Tested and consider installing a WellSeal on your well.
2. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. WellSeal is a relatively cost-effective solution that can provide personal protection and protect the community.
1. Inspect the electrical system and purge the well.
2. Shock-Disinfect the well using an NSF-approved chemical, NOT Bleach. Get Informed - learn more about Shock-Disinfection.
3. Get Tested using a field testing kit to screen for bacterial quality. We recommend the Safe Home Well Water Test Kit. If you test positive for bacteria after shock-disinfection, Shock-Disinfect again.
4. Get your well tested for bacterial quality, nutrients, general water quality, and other contaminants - we recommend WaterCheck™ Deluxe from National Testing Labs.
5. Install a new WellSeal.
In addition to being a great customer offering for the local well drillers, well pump installers, or water quality specialists, WellSeal is also an excellent tool for:
• Watershed Groups
• Citizen Scientists
• Environmental Organizations to promote Environmental Messages
• Well Education and Outreach Programs for homeowners and the community.
At public meetings, I often hear phrases like - "We all live downstream," "We need to protect the wellhead," "Protect the aquifer," and when it comes to protecting our groundwater resources - "We must work as a community." I couldn't agree more.
For more information or to purchase, go to WellSeal.com.
For more information on water testing, go to Get Tested.