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Water Well FAQ's

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about water wells. They are provided as a service to the community about the use of and potential hazards associated with water wells.

If you suspect any problems with your well please contact us and our Specialists will help determine the best course of action for you.

What does a water well look like ?

Private water wells have a certain structure once complete. A water well cross-section shows distinct features.

How does a well get contaminated?

The well's defenses against contamination are its surface sanitary seal, annular seal, and well casing. If the annular seal is too shallow, the casing ruptured, or the surface seal broken by holes or missing gaskets, contaminants can enter the well. If a well is located too close to a source of contaminants, these may enter through one of these routes or percolate down through the ground, and enter the well at depth.

What to do about flooded Water Wells ?

During heavy rains or floods, if flood waters or debris are observed around your well casing, the well water becomes cloudy or muddy, or the water tastes "off," your well may have become contaminated. You should check you well's surface sealing characteristics and flush and disinfect the well immediately. Contaminated wells may contain waterborne disease bacteria.

Your well may need to be disinfected. See our Disinfection Procedure, or contact our office.

What do I do if I want to sample my well water ?

The Placer County Public Health Laboratory has water sampling kits available. By following the water sampling instructions, a well owner is able to do their own water sampling. If you would like to have sampling done, however, contact a licensed well driller.

The Placer County Public Health Laboratory offers water testing services for specimens brought to them from households or businesses. The Public Health Laboratory accepts water specimens Monday-Friday (excluding County Holidays, the day before Thanksgiving, and the day before the Christmas Holiday). All specimens must be returned by 4:00pm on the day of collection. No appointment is needed and walk-in service is accepted.

Please note as well, that the Public Health Laboratory tests only for Coliform Bacteria. If you are interested in chemical or mineral testing, contact a well driller or another laboratory.

My property has a hand dug well. Is this water ok to drink?

Historically, many properties in Placer County utilized hand dug wells. A hand dug well is not considered a source for potable water supply and can be a threat to your health as well as to the ground water.

What is a four hour well yield test and when is it needed?

The four hour well yield test is used to determine the production or yield of the well in gallons per minute. When required by Environmental Health Services, this test must be performed by a licensed well driller or licensed pump contractor. A current four hour well yield report can be required for a number of reasons. Depending upon the circumstance, it might be needed prior to building permit issuance or prior to issuance of an Environmental Health Services Final which is needed for a Certificate of Occupancy or as a requirement for a land division. Longer and more detailed testing may be required when there is concern of low well yields.

Why do I have to submit a current bacteriological analysis of my well water to Environmental Health Services? I drink it every day and I am not sick.

When a building permit involves plumbing, it is necessary to demonstrate that the water supply meets potable requirements. A water well might become contaminated with bacteria and be unsafe for use. One individual might be less sensitive than others who might use the water.

Can I apply for my own well permit?

Only a well driller with a C-57 license can apply for and obtain a well permit.

Where can I obtain a bacteriological analysis of my well water?

The bacteriological analysis must be performed by a California State Certified Laboratory .The Placer County Public Health Laboratory, which is located at 11475 C Ave, in Auburn, can provide this service for a fee. However, any California State Certified laboratory which performs this test is acceptable. Environmental Health Services can provide a list of other local laboratories that provide this service. It should be noted that this list is not a recommendation. All bacteriological analysis results must be accompanied by a chlorine residual test result. The water sample must be collected in a sterilized sample container provided by the laboratory.