Is there salt water in my well?
If you are on an island or have a well within a few miles of Puget Sound you will also want to test for salt water intrusion. The most frequently used test is called a conductivity test. Well waters ability to carry an electrical current by means of ionic motion is measured through conductivity. Salinity is the measured mass of dissolved salts (ions) in a solution. As such, conductivity readings provide a good indication of salinity. In general, as salinity increases, the total dissolved solids (TDS) of a solution increases, and so too does conductivity.
Drinking Water Quality Regulations
Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, signed into law in 1986, empower the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine and set standards for potential contaminants to drinking water.
The EPA requires local agencies to enforce these standards in their jurisdictions. The Washington Department of Health and Environment (WDHE) is the regulating agency for Washington. These agencies monitor all regulated contaminants to water.
Potable water is defined by the EPA and WDHE as being water that meets these regulatory agencies’ standards. Currently, there are 83 chemical or biological constituents that must be monitored in Skagit County.
Chemical constituents are subdivided according to chemical characteristics. The classifications are inorganic (chlorine, pH, alkalinity, hardness, fluoride, nitrate/nitrite, sulfate, specific conductance, solids, and metals), and organic (trihalomethanes, volatile organic compounds, and pesticides).
Biological constituents are also monitored on a regular basis. Monitoring includes routine testing for the presence of coliform bacteria as indicator species, and turbidity as a measure of particulate matter. The absence of coliforms as a bacterial indicator means that most other known bacterial pathogens have also been removed or inactivated by disinfection. Low turbidity indicates a lesser likelihood of the presence of pathogens that are large enough to appear as particulates. The combined information from this testing provides a good measure of water potability in respect to biological pathogens.
For more information about water quality regulations, please call:
Dept. of Health Office of Drinking Water (360) 236-3100
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (800) 426-4791.
You can also visit the U.S. EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.
Drinking Water Standards Program
Ground Water & Drinking Water Homepage
Local Drinking Water Information
Drinking Water contaminants
Badwater page from Inspect-NY
Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory Newsletter# 513 Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Follett, R.H. and Soltanpour, P.N. Fact sheet .506, Irrigation water
quality criteria. Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. 1992.
Soltanpour, P.N. and Raley, W.L. Fact sheet 4.908, Evaluation of
drinking water quality for livestock. Colorado State University Cooperative
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Fact Sheet: National
Primary Drinking Water Standards and National Secondary Drinking Water
Standards. Office of Water, Washington, DC 20450. 1989.
Self, J.R. and Waskom, R.M. Fact sheet .577, Nitrates in drinking water.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. 1994.