Safe Water Resource Guide

Drought and Your Well

We had abnormally dry conditions this spring and summer, which may cause your well to run low through the fall and winter. Follow these tips if your well is running low and to help keep your well water safe for consumption:

Private Sources of Drinking Water

Drilled Wells: Drilled wells draw water from deep below the ground and are the source of drinking water for many households and communities throughout Vermont.

Dug Wells: Because they draw from shallow water tables, dug wells are generally more vulnerable than drilled wells to surface water contamination. However, a properly constructed dug well in a good location can produce high-quality water.

Lakes & Rivers: Untreated surface water in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds is not safe to drink unless it is treated to remove bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Springs: Springs should be constructed in a way that protects against surface water contamination and prevents rodents and insects from entering.

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Types of Radioactivity in Water Supplies

Alpha Radiation: a type of energy released with the decay of certain radioactive elements found naturally in the earth’s crust. Over billions of years, these elements slowly change form and produce “decay products” such as radium and radon. During this change process, energy is released. One form of this energy is alpha radiation.

Radium: a metal that is found in nature in several forms (called isotopes). Radium can be found at varying levels in soil, water, rocks, plants and food. If radium is present in the rock where a well is drilled, it dissolves from the rock and enters the well water.

Radon: a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has no color, odor or taste and which results from the decay of radioactive elements found naturally in the earth’s crust. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in every area of Vermont. Well water that contains radioactive minerals may increase the level of radon gas in a home.

Uranium: a radioactive element found in nature. It can be present in soil, air, water, rocks, plants and food. Uranium breaks down (decays) very slowly into other elements including radium and radon gas.

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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) in Drinking Water

The term Volatile Organic Compound refers to a variety of chemical compounds that contain carbon and evaporate at relatively low temperatures. Drinking water that contains VOCs can increase your risk for a variety of health problems.

More: Volatile Organic Compounds in Drinking Water

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Additional Information

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