CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Do you rely on a well for water supply? You might want to ensure it is safe to drink this spring.

The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department said that unlike areas with a public water supply, private well water is not treated with disinfectant and is filtered. This poses risks, as sediment, unwanted chemicals, metal and harmful bacteria can remain in well water.

To avoid these risks local homeowners are advised to have their well water tested periodically.

According to the SLCPHD, homeowners should have their well water tested for coliform, or bacteria, on an annual basis.

Public Health added that well water should be tested for pH, turbidity, hardness, alkalinity and contaminants such as arsenic, chloride, lead, nitrate, manganese, sulfate and sodium every three to five years.

Well water should also be checked any time there is a change in odor or appearance, the household experiences recurring gastrointestinal illnesses, plumbing fixtures are stained, scaly residue buildings or if soaps do not lather.

If a homeowner smells rotten eggs, this could be hydrogen sulfide emissions, which is a naturally-occurring gas in groundwater. The Environmental Protection Agency does not have limits for hydrogen sulfide because the human nose can detect it at low levels when it is not considered a health risk.

Hydrogen sulfide becomes a concern when the odor in a well is overpowering and makes water unpalatable. At high levels, it can also corrode metals and cause yellow or black greasy stains on fixtures and inside pipes.

In addition to water testing, a virtual inspection should also be conducted every year to ensure the well cap is secured and the well casing is free from cracks, holes and extends at least one foot from the ground. The surrounding ground slopes should be checked to ensure they are away from the casing and is free from pooled water.

Hazardous material, such as chemicals and fertilizer should be stored at least 100 feet away from the well.

Below are locations that test well water in St. Lawrence County:

  • Dunn Paper: Gouverneur: 315-287-7180
  • Life Science Laboratories: Waddington: 315-388-4476
  • Tap Score: mytapscore.com