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How Drought Affects Well Water Treatment Systems And Water Quality

parched waterThe 2014 North American Drought was a record-breaking expansion of the drought that began in 2010, after the lack of snow and rain in the United States resulted in little or no rainwater or meltwater to soak into the ground.

While some of the country has been hit with record rainfall and flooding, California and Texas are still in the grips of severe drought.

2013 is in the books as California’s driest calendar year on record. Now, as the spring runoff season taps the Sierra snowpack — less than 18 percent of normal — the Golden State is in for a dry parched summer, with profound implications for life and livelihoods in California.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 15% of U.S. residents depend on their own personal, non-public well for their drinking water source and the drought is beginning to impact thousands of non-public water wells throughout the U.S.

The drought has caused and is expected to continue to inflict, catastrophic financial effects on the impacted states mainly because it has an effect on agricultural and local communities that depend upon groundwater. The shortage of water also has the potential to impact many millions of American citizens who rely on non-public wells for their drinking water supply.

The water levels within an aquifer which supply a well does not always stay at the same level over time. Droughts, seasonal variants in rainfall, as well as how rapidly the water is pumped out, can affect the height of these water levels. When a well is extracted at a faster rate than the groundwater levels around it can be recharged through rainfall or other underground flows, then water levels in the well can be lowered. This may be happening in some regions during the present drought.

drought affecting corn

What To Do If Your Region Is Affected

If you reside within a region affected by drought, be on the look-out for a change in your well water. If you experience a dry well condition where the well is actually pumping air, consult with a qualified professional water well water contractor to see what the level of the water is in the well.

Usually the well pump can be lowered to take advantage of the existing water table. If your well water quality has changed in recent months and you discover increased levels of odor, color or possibly sediment, it is possible that this was the result of a drop in the water table.

Restoring a well may also cause it to produce a lot more water as well as boost water quality. Water well rehabilitation is the process in which a well is refurbished to the best possible condition using various physical or chemical methods. An expert water well contractor can perform tests to ascertain if rehabilitating measures are going to be produced prior to starting the procedure.

Water Treatment Devices Impacted By Drought

A great number of well water owners use various kinds of water treatment systems to achieve drinkable water from their water wells. These include iron filters, water softeners, chlorinators, sediment filters, ozone generators and UV sterilizers to name a few.

Systems which include automated iron filter systems, water softeners as well as reverse osmosis systems all utilize water to automatically clean and maintain the treatment system in a procedure referred to as regeneration, wherein the system is back-washed and rinsed to drain to clean and maintain the treatment system.

Many homeowners do not know how frequently these devices regenerate or just how much water is used during the process. If the well doesn’t generate sufficient flow and pressure to properly clean and regenerate the water treatment system, then the treatment system will eventually foul and/or need premature service.

How To Optimize Your Water Treatment System During The Drought

Analyze your water both before and after your water treatment system to ascertain if it is working in line with the manufacturer specifications. If it’s working properly, look into changing the frequency of the backwash or regeneration to save on water.

For example, if you’ve got an iron filter or some other style of backwashing filter system that backwashes every night, look into setting it for every other night to cut water usage. If it is set for once every 4 days, think of changing it to once every 7 days.

For more help on minimizing wastewater for your backwashing system, view “How To Minimize Waste Water From Softeners and Backwash Filter Systems”

Consider using the wastewater from the filter system for irrigation. With the exception of water softeners which use salt water brine for regeneration, many types of filtration systems have backwash water which may have wastewater which can be directed to irrigate trees or grasses. Take a look at local regulations, as some states have restrictions on re-using this kind of wastewater.

Inspect under-sink reverse osmosis (“RO”) systems for wastewater to make sure the system is not continually running wastewater to drain. Under-sink RO systems direct a percentage of the water to drain, when the system is producing the purified drinking water. If an RO system malfunctions the RO can continually waste water. The wastewater from RO systems can be frequently used for irrigation and it is frequently not difficult to run some tubing out of the wastewater line to the outdoors for irrigation.

Conserve Water and Be Educated

rainwater harvesting system
Consider capturing rainwater to irrigate your landscape

Minimize day-to-day use by installing efficient fixtures such as toilets, faucets, as well as shower heads.

Decrease total water demand by installing efficient water system fixtures and employing conservation practices to minimize the effect of drought on your own private water supply. Lessen peak water demand by limiting clothes washing and outdoor use during times of drought.  Diverting your wastewater to be used for irrigation, capturing rainwater, xeriscaping, or switching to drought-tolerant landscaping can take a large load off of your outdoor irrigation water usage.

Changes in water use habits can offer fast reductions in demand. Become mindful of new development in your community including the development of gas extraction wells.

Contact your regional planning or zoning commission for announcements concerning hearings on development projects that may have an effect on your drinking water, and attend these proceedings. Ask questions about precisely how your own water source is being protected.

For more help on saving water during the drought, don’t hesitate to e-mail us at [email protected], leave us a message on Facebook, or use our online contact form for prompt, personalized assistance from our trained professionals.  Thanks for reading!

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