Private wells lay outside of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority, but some states and local agencies present standards for private water supplies. Even in states with regulations, landowners have a vested interest in protecting their water supply from contamination. The water they drink from their wells might present a hazard to them or their families. Contamination can come from different sources including landfills, septic and storage tanks, fertilizers, pesticides, other sources of urban or suburban runoff.
There are three main types of private drinking water wells.
- Dug wells: shallow wells, which were hand-dug to a depth of approximately 10 to 30 feet deep, that are lined with stones, brick, or tile and have the highest risk for contamination.
- Driven wells: slightly deeper wells, between 30 and 50 feet deep, that tap into water from water-saturated regions with moderate to high risk of contamination.
- Drilled wells: usually deeper wells, most often over 100 feet, that use a heavy plastic or metal casing to mitigate the risk of contamination.
Images: “Eketorp water well01” by Håkan Svensson via CC BY 3.0; “Graphics” by Top Energy Training