Logan County Department of Public Health
National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 10-16
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[March 11, 2013]
The Logan County Department of
Public Health is giving recognition to National Groundwater
Awareness Week, March 10-16. Groundwater serves as the source of
drinking water for the vast majority of Americans, regardless of
whether it comes from a private well or from a public system.
Because we rely on clean, safe water for survival and for everyday
needs, it is important to recognize how to protect this vital
It all starts underground. Groundwater flows slowly between sand,
gravel, pores and between cracks in rock in formations called
aquifers. These aquifers feed our lakes and streams, are used for
agriculture, and most important, provide the drinking water we need.
Groundwater can become vulnerable to contamination from above-ground
surface contaminants if proper measures are not in place.
are several ways for all of us to protect our groundwater.
First, store and properly dispose of hazardous household
substances to prevent direct contact with the ground surface. In
addition, do not dispose of unused pharmaceuticals into your septic
system (public or private), since traces of medications have been
detected in groundwater.
Secondly, if you are not served by a public sewer, properly
maintain your on-site septic system to prevent improperly treated
waste from entering into the groundwater supply.
Third, properly seal unused wells since abandoned wells can pose
a safety hazard and can provide a direct route for contaminants to
enter the groundwater supply. Prior to having a well sealed, contact
your local health department for information concerning regulations.
There are an estimated 400,000 water wells serving the household
needs of approximately 1.3 million people in Illinois. If you rely
on your own water well, it is important to properly maintain the
well and well site to prevent groundwater contamination.
First, make sure sources of contamination (i.e., chemicals,
livestock, septic systems, etc.) are located far enough from your
well by establishing a safety zone. This setback may commonly range
from 50 feet to over 200 feet, depending on the type or source of
Illinois Water Well Construction Code has established
regulations for minimum setback distances, and your local health
department can provide you with this information.
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Secondly, it is important to have your well routinely inspected
by a licensed water well contractor to ensure the well is maintained
and in good condition. Defects such as a crack in the well cap or
casing can provide a direct route for surface contaminants to reach
your drinking water and groundwater.
The water from public systems is regulated by the Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency and is routinely monitored for
contaminant levels. Private well owners, on the other hand, must
manage their own water systems and take responsibility to ensure
their water is safe. As part of this process, water well owners are
encouraged to have their water tested at least annually to monitor
bacteria, nitrates and other contaminants of local concern.
Well water test kits are available at the Logan County Department
of Public Health at a cost of $15. In addition, the Logan County
Department of Public Health will provide well water nitrate
screenings at the Community Health Fair on March 23. All you need to
do is bring a sample of your well water to the environmental health
The Logan County Department of Public Health asks for your
support in doing your part to protect our groundwater in recognition
of National Groundwater Awareness Week. If you would like more
information, contact the Logan County Department of Public Health at
Sources: Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois
Association of Groundwater Professionals and U.S. Environmental
[Text from file received from
Logan County Department of Public