Well Maintenance

  • How do I select a private well contractor?

The RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) regulations state that a registered well driller or pump installer should be hired whenever any work is conducted on a private well. The RI DEM Office of Water Resources maintains a listing of registered well drillers and pump installers. Or you can call RI DEM at 401-222-4700.

  • What do I do if my well has been flooded?

Do not turn on the pump and do not drink or wash with the well water. There is a high liklihood that during the flooding the well was contaminated. You should disinfect the well and then have the well water tested for bacteria.

The Tip Sheet Bleaching Your Well has the steps to disinfect.
For more information on bacteria in well water see the Tip Sheet.

  • How do I abandon an old, unused well?

Follow these regulations set by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Water Quality

  • My tap water has a rotten egg smell, what is causing this?

Water containing hydrogen sulfide has a “rotten egg” smell. Hydrogen sulfide gas is a nuisance that is not usually a health risk at concentrations normally found in household water. It is often caused from the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria present in groundwater. These bacteria use sulfur as an energy source and reduce naturally occurring sulfates (minerals) which produce hydrogen sulfide. These bacteria normally exist in oxygen-deficient environments, such as deep wells and plumbing systems.  See the Tip Sheet on Sulfate and Hydrogen Sulfide in Drinking Water Wells for more information.

  • What is the proper way to disinfect the well and the household plumbing?

The Tip Sheet Bleaching Your Well has the steps to disinfect.
For more information on bacteria in well water see the Tip Sheet.

  • I live on the coast and have a well that I use only for outdoor watering. The well contains sea water, is this safe for my plants?

Private wells in coastal areas can draw in seawater, causing them to have a high salinity. It is difficult to determine how much “seawater” is safe for landscape plants since every plant has a different salt tolerance. However, here are some things to consider:
Sea water has an average salinity of about 35,000 parts per million. According to horticulturalists at URI Cooperative Extension Education Center, water with a concentration over 500 parts per million begins to be unhealthy for even the hardiest of plants. However, each plant type will react differently to the amount of salt in water depending upon its sensitivity.
Click here for a list of suggested coastal plants.  It is important to monitor soil salt levels through a soil test. There is a soil testing labs at the University of Connecticut.

  • What is backflow and how can it be prevented?

Backflow occurs when there is a change in water pressure that causes water to flow backwards in the plumbing. An example of how this may happen is if a hose is being used outside to water the garden and someone inside of the house turns on the water. A loss of pressure might occur. If backflow occurs while a drinking water supply is in direct contact with a contaminated water supply, the drinking water can become contaminated.

To prevent backflow, install a backflow prevention device on all outdoor faucets. This is a simple, inexpensive screw-on device that you can buy at plumbing or hardware stores.

Water Quantity

  • How do I know how much water my well can produce?
    How much water your well produces is also called well yield.  The well yield is an estimate of how much water your well can produce. The well yield is the amount of water that can be pumped from the well continuously for a set amount of time. The amount is usually measured in gallons per minute. See the Tip Sheet on Understanding How Much Water You Well Produces for more information.







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