We all know the delight of cool water on a warm day or the good feeling of a warm shower with clean, pure water. Such a wonderful gift is often taken for granted and we forget that many in the world do not enjoy these simple pleasures. Around the world, thousands die each year from contaminated water but have no other options. When a missionary organization drills a well that brings clean water to a village, the whole village is transformed both in spirit and longevity.
We seldom stop to think about our water because we are so accustomed to clean water, and we trust where it comes from. Whether we are part of a central water system like the city or rely on our private wells, water quality doesn’t become important unless an issue arises like PFAS chemicals in the Widefield water system. Suddenly, those folks realized how important pure water was to their everyday lives. Well tests happen mostly when someone buys a house. The El Paso County Health Department tests around 3000 wells per year in the county and recommends testing our private wells every year but I disagree. If you have questions of color, odor, staining of sinks or taste, a test is a good idea but unless things change, future tests seem to me to be a waste of money.
Our underground aquifers are random layers of gravel, sand and sandstone with pockets of water in between. Your well was drilled through one or more of these pockets and that is where your water comes from. A deeper well goes through more pockets of water to ensure a more reliable source of water but does not mean better water, just more water. Sometimes a well penetrates an area that has iron deposits (brown stains,) copper (green-blue stains,) or sulfur (rotten egg smell.) There is no pattern for these undesirable water additions. It just depends on where you live.
If you want to test your well go to the Citizen’s Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road, up to the second floor at the Public Health Department and you will find a window to the water testing office. You can purchase a variety of testing packages, but I recommend either the HUD/Real Estate package ($80 to test for nitrates, coliform, E. coli, lead and turbidity (clarity) or the General Colorado Package ($107 that adds tests for fluoride, arsenic, calcium, copper, iron, lead, hardness, magnesium, uranium and PH.) You can get a Deluxe Colorado Package for $265 that tests for a whole bunch of things but I think that is overkill. The public health department will give you a sample bottle to collect your water and bring it back to them.
Harmless coliform bacteria are found in 3% of wells and do not need treatment. Coliform is usually found on the faucet and is everywhere in the air as well. I tested my well and cleaned the faucet outlet carefully with bleach before getting a sample and still had coliform. I tested a neighbor’s well and didn’t do anything to the faucet and there was no coliform. We have great water we have enjoyed for 30 years so we just decided to accept the coliform.
The test for coliform bacteria includes E. coli. Harmful strains of E. coli are found in animal feces and, if found in a water sample, indicates that the water is contaminated with feces. In this case, the water needs to be disinfected. The solution for E. coli is to pour chlorine down the well and then pump water for a few hours to disinfect it and clear the chlorine. This was required for our well when the pump was replaced, and we had chlorine taste in the water for weeks. I don’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary or required and then only by a licensed well pump company. Editor’s Note: When chlorine is added to water containing bacteria, carcinogenic compounds called Trihalomethanes (THMs) are formed. Creating known cancer-causing compounds is a great reason to avoid putting chlorine or bleach in well water unless E. coli is present. For details on THMs, see https://foodrevolution.org/blog/chlorine-water-harmful/ .
Nitrates are more common around agricultural land where they use fertilizers.
One last recommendation: If your well head is in a place where runoff from rain flows around the wellhead, I recommend piling dirt and gravel around the well head sloping upward so water or rain runs down and away from the well head. This will keep the water from running underground along the well casing. #
Terry Stokka is chair of the Black Forest Land Use Committee and head of The Friends of Black Forest.
In 1972, it was mandated that developers provide proof of adequate water supply that was available and the “quality, quantity and dependability was sufficient” (Guide to Colorado Well Permits, 2012). The State Engineers office then reviews this and decides whether there is adequate water supply. The El Paso County Regulation Board states that a developer must be able to prove enough water for 300 years. Developers do not need to prove that the water is actually capable of being extracted from an aquifer. Only a little over half of the water in the Denver Basin System is capable of being removed.
Residents in El Paso County can get their water tested for bacteria and other levels by collecting a sample. You can obtain and drop off a test kit at : The El Paso County Public Health 1675 West Garden of the Gods Road, Suite 2044 Colorado Springs, CO 80907 (719) 578-3120 MAP or you may pick up the kit at: Falcon Fire Station #3 (Bacteriological and Inorganic Anions) 7030 Old Meridian Road Falcon, CO 80831 719-495-4050 MAP (Samples must be returned to El Paso County Public Health Laboratory - see above)
Calculating The Flow Rate For A Well Generally speaking, the flow rate of a well is defined by the rate, measured in gallons per minute, that water can be extracted from the well. Measuring this calculation is a fairly simple task as long as you don't have a combination well pump and pressure tank. If you simply need to calculate the flow rate for a standard well, then follow these three steps:
Measure the flow of the well into a bucket.
Be sure to time the flow using an accurate stopwatch.
Divide the gallon size of the bucket by the number of seconds it took for the bucket to be filled, then multiply by 60. This will give you the flow rate measured in gallons per minute (gpm).
Let's say that you used a five-gallon bucket and that the bucket was filled in 45 seconds. Using the formula outlined above, your well flow rate would be: 5 gallons divided by 45 seconds x 60 = 6.6 gallons per minute.
If you have a well with a well pump and pressure tank, then you will need to use a different tactic.
Open a faucet until the pump turns on.
As soon as the pump turns on, close the faucet so that the pump can fill up the pressure tank. Once the pump has turned back off, begin step three.
Open the faucet into a five-gallon bucket (you may need more than one bucket). Measure the entirety of the water discharge before the pump turns back on.
As soon as the pump turns on, shut the faucet and use a stopwatch to time the pump cycle.
Make a note of the pump cycle time (round to the nearest second) once the pump has turned back off.
Divide the total number of gallons collected in step three by the number of seconds calculated in step five.
Multiply your answer from step six by 60 to calculate the average pumping capacity, or flow rate, of the pump in gallons per minute.
No Natural Resource Has Greater Significance For The Future Than Water