What is Well Chlorination, and Why is it Important?

Well Chlorination

As the world population continues to grow, the demand for clean water also increases. One way to ensure a clean and safe water supply is through private water well chlorination. Chlorination is a process that uses chlorine to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that can contaminate water. There are many benefits to chlorinating your water well. Chlorination is an effective way to disinfect water and make it safe to drink. Chlorine is also a relatively inexpensive disinfectant.

Although chlorination is an effective disinfectant, it is important to remember that it does not remove all contaminants from water. For example, chlorination will not remove heavy metals or dissolved minerals from water. Therefore, it is important to have your water regularly tested to ensure it is safe to drink. Chlorination is a simple and effective way to ensure a safe and clean water supply. Private well owners should consider chlorinating their water to ensure the safety of their families and their community.

What exactly is well chlorination?

Well chlorination is using chlorine in a well to kill potentially harmful microorganisms. Water from a new well, a repaired well, or any well where the sanitary seal is removed should be considered contaminated. The bacteria that contaminate the water are common in the soil and on most surfaces and may enter the well during construction or maintenance. Therefore, complete and proper disinfection of the well and water system is an important step following any well’s construction, repair, and maintenance. When bacteriological water sample analysis indicates the presence of coliform bacteria, proper disinfection is one step to eliminate the contamination in a well. 

Well Chlorination

Does my home’s well need chlorination?

Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms found in virtually every environment on Earth. They are an essential part of the planet’s ecosystems and play a key role in the cycling of nutrients and the decomposition of organic matter. While some bacteria are beneficial, others can cause disease. The presence of bacteria in drinking water is a major concern for public health. The most common waterborne diseases are caused by bacteria, such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever. These diseases can be transmitted through contaminated water and can often be deadly. To protect public health, it is important to ensure that drinking water is free of harmful bacteria. Water treatment is the most effective way to remove bacteria from water. Treatment methods, such as filtration and well chlorination, can effectively remove bacteria from water. 

Regular bacteria testing and mitigation are necessary if your home is on a private water well. Ultimately, you are responsible for the water quality in your home. If you’ve had bacteria tests that reveal contamination, it is a good idea to test more regularly.

After chlorination, bacterial contamination may reoccur if a source of contamination persists. Shock chlorination is NOT a recommended method for treating recurring bacteria problems, and the source(s) of such contamination should be identified and eliminated by a licensed well driller/contractor. Another option is to install a continuous disinfection treatment system, such as UV light

Are there any health concerns with chlorination?

We should always weigh the risks and benefits of any type of water treatment. The potentially harmful effects of disinfection byproducts should be considered in light of the tremendous benefits of water disinfection. Although chlorine has been a literal lifesaver in drinking water, it also has the potential to form byproducts that can cause harmful health effects. Chlorine can react with organic materials in water to form disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The formation of DBPs is usually a greater concern for water systems that use surface water, such as rivers, lakes, and streams, as their source. Surface water sources are more likely to contain the organic materials that combine with chlorine to form DBPs.

Well Chlorination

Besides chlorine, there are several other types of disinfectants. Each has tradeoffs. Chloramines may form lower levels of regulated DBPs than chlorine, but, depending on the source water characteristics, they have the potential to form other DBPs and increase the risks of nitrate formation and corrosion in the distribution system. Ozone is effective and has no taste, but it can also create other DBPs and does not provide protection in the distribution system, so chloramines or chlorine must still be added to protect the water. Ultraviolet (UV) light is effective in clear water and does not form DBPs. Chlorine does not get into the body through your skin, but some people sensitive to chlorine could experience skin irritation. Because the amount of chlorine in drinking water is extremely small—far less than in a swimming pool—this situation is expected to be rare.

Fortunately, if you have a private water well you probably won’t be exposed to the long-term effects of chlorine or DBPs in your water. A proper chlorination procedure will kill the bacteria and eventually flush chlorine out. 

Can I chlorinate my well on my own?

This is easily one of the most critical well questions our customers ask. Chlorination is an essential task every Central Indiana well owner should complete. Without it, well components can break down, and water can become contaminated with harmful pathogens. If you prefer to be a DIYer, read our step-by-step directions on chlorinating your well correctly. If you aren’t comfortable with this process or don’t want to mess with it, give us a call. Either way, stay vigilant regarding your family’s drinking water.

Wait for one to two weeks after shock chlorinating the water supply system to retest for total coliform and E. coli bacteria. Follow sample collection instructions carefully. If the test results show the absence of coliform bacteria, the water is safe to drink. However, suppose test results show the presence of coliform bacteria. In that case, the source(s) of contamination should be identified and eliminated through a licensed well driller/contractor, or a continuous disinfection treatment system like UV Light should be installed.

If you have questions about water well chlorination or any other water treatment options, contact C&J today!