Preventing Biofouling In Well Water

Well Water & Biofouling

If you live in a home with a private well, the health of your water is your responsibility. Your well draws untreated groundwater from underground aquifers and is likely to encounter bacteria and contaminants before it reaches your home. Regular maintenance of your well and water treatment systems is of utmost importance. 

Biofouling, usually caused by the build up of iron bacteria, is a problem of particular concern. Manganese and aluminum biofouling are also found in groundwater yet these biofilms are usually harmless. While it’s more commonly known in the field of marine biology, biofouling can also cause problems with your well water and affect the integrity and function of your well and treatment systems. It is also one of the top reasons for decreasing well yields.

What Is Biofouling?

Biofouling refers to biofilms from living and dead bacteria, including their sheaths, stalks, secretions and other pieces. The biofilms are naturally occurring and in most cases are harmless. Biofouling from bacteria has destructive effects on artificial devices used in different fields, such as water treatment and other marine biology applications. 

Biofouling from iron bacteria is more of a nuisance than a health concern. It can actually serve a positive function as it acts as a preliminary iron filter; however, it can build up in wells causing inefficiencies. Decreased yields may also occur. Iron bacteria has other side effects like odor, discoloration and corrosion. 

Even more, iron biofouling is generally the cause of iron build up in wells and the features of some water treatment systems may worsen the symptoms. Issues with the well, filter, plumbing, or materials will affect the function and the health of your water. 

Biofouling & Water Treatment

Biofilms can wreak havoc on carbon filters used in water treatment systems, as well as reverse osmosis membranes and cartridge filters. Not all water treatment systems and well pumps are constructed to function with higher levels of iron bacteria. Well owners should look for filters that run a backwash cycle. These systems are better at screening biofilms without build up. Design, material selection, or construction flaws may cause corrosion, extra chemical oxidation or restrictions in screens or other channels for infiltration of bacteria. Consulting a water treatment company, like the professionals at Hague Quality Water of Maryland is a good first step to identifying issues and appropriate well water treatment solutions.

When drilling a new well or repairing an existing well, homeowners should carefully consider the precautions taken by available contractors. Contractors should be familiar with local water and common problems, and should work to reduce damage caused by well drilling. Additionally, chlorinate any new water introduced, either by the contractor or obtained from a municipal source, and chlorinate again after service. General cleanliness of tools and equipment will also reduce the possibility of biofouling.

Biofouling is normally a slow process. If your well is idle for any long period of time or is not used regularly, such as in a vacation home, biofouling is more commonly occuring. Always perform a water test if your well has been idle before first use. Testing can inform you if contamination is present.

Prevent Biofouling In Your Well

Performing basic well maintenance will help keep your water safe and clean. You will want to inspect the integrity of the well casing and well cap to ensure everything is in good condition. Look for cracks and other areas that may open your well to exposure from outside elements.

To reduce occurrence of biofilming, consider a water softening system. The calcium removal during water softening applications can actually mitigate biofilming problems. Studies show a reduced rate of biofouling at reverse osmosis elements when calcium is removed during water softening. A whole house system like the Hague WaterMax® combined with reverse osmosis provides effective water softening for your home’s water using appliances and delivers better drinking water.

Test Your Well Water

Testing for coliform is a cost-effect way to detect biofouling. While testing will not prevent problems, it will identify problems even in early stages. If biofouling is present, chlorination will normally resolve the problem especially if the problem is caught early. In more pronounced cases, an experienced well rehabilitator may be necessary to provide additional services. The water treatment specialists at Hague Quality Water of Maryland can sample your water, or you can deliver a sample, and test it for bacteria at a certified water testing lab.

If your family lives in Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, or Prince George’s County and you are concerned about the quality and contents of your water, we are here to help with your water improvement projects. Whether you need the WaterMax® System or other water treatment options, our team cares deeply about the health and safety of your family.  To request an in-home water test, contact our office.For additional assistance, call Hague Quality Water of Maryland at (410) 757-2992.


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