Well Water Testing Analysis and Contamination in MA and NH – Water ph

The seventh post in our series highlighting some of the contaminants that can be found in water wells. Northeast Water Wells is available to collect samples and test your well water for contaminants anytime.

If you have a private well, regular water quality testing is very important. Northeast Water Wells recommends testing your well at least every two years. Many contaminants cannot be identified by taste or odor, making it difficult for homeowners to know if the water quality of their well has changed.

What is pH in well water?

The pH level of your drinking water reflects how acidic it is.  pH stands for “potential of hydrogen”, referring to the amount of hydrogen found in a substance (in this case, water).  pH is measured on a scale that runs from 0 to 14.   Seven is neutral, meaning there is a balance between acid and alkalinity.   A measurement below 7 means acid is present and a measurement above 7 is basic (or alkaline).

What are the regulations on pH?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate the pH level in drinking water.  It is classified as a secondary drinking water contaminant and the impact is considered aesthetic.  However, the EPA recommends that public water systems maintain pH levels of between 6.5 and 8.5, a good guide for well owners.

What are the health effects of pH?

Water with a low pH can be acidic, naturally soft and corrosive. Acidic water can leach metals from pipes and fixtures, such as copper, lead and zinc.  It can also damage metal pipes and cause aesthetic problems, such as a metallic or sour taste, laundry staining or blue-green stains in sinks and drains.  Water with a low pH may contain metals in addition to the before-mentioned copper, lead and zinc.  Drinking water with a pH level above 8.5 indicates that a high level of alkalinity minerals are present. High alkalinity does not pose a health risk, but can cause aesthetic problems, such as an alkali taste to the water that makes coffee taste bitter; scale build-up in plumbing; and lowered efficiency of electric water heaters.

What are the treatments for pH in drinking water?

Two home treatment methods to adjust pH are acid neutralizing filters and chemical feed pump systems injecting a neutralizing solution. An acid neutralizing filter uses a calcite or ground limestone (calcium carbonate) for normal pH correction, but could also include a blend of magnesium oxide and calcite, if the pH is very low. Since the water absorbs these minerals when it passes through the filter, the alkalinity and hardness will increase.  Hardness is easily treated with a water softener that uses an ion exchange process to remove the hardness minerals. A chemical feed pump solution is made with well water and soda ash (similar to baking soda) and mixed in a solution tank. The chemical feed pump injects this high pH solution into the household piping system where it reacts with the low pH water in a retention tank (typically 40 gallons) and neutralizes the pH.  Note: Neutralizing with soda ash slightly increases the sodium content of the water, which may pose additional health concerns , if someone in your household is on a reduced sodium diet.

Northeast Water Wells offers a variety of testing packages to take care of all of your water needs. Call today to set up a time for us to collect a sample of your water. All of our testing is done through a state certified analytical lab.

If you live in Massachusetts you can view the guidelines for Well Water Testing here

If you live in New Hampshire you can view the guidelines for Well Water Testing here

Article written by Karen Provencher, Northeast Water Wells