Tampa Bay's Well Inspection Regulations and Guidelines
If you rely on a private well for drinking water in the Tampa Bay area, it’s important to understand the local regulations and guidelines for well inspections. Routine well inspections and testing help ensure your well is operating properly and your water quality meets health standards.
Overview of Regulations in Tampa Bay
The state of Florida has regulations requiring new well construction permits and well completion reports. However, there are no state laws mandating routine well inspections or water testing for existing wells not used for public water supplies. Local governments have the authority to establish their own well inspection programs through ordinances or policies.
In Hillsborough County, there are no mandates for private well testing or inspections. The Hillsborough County Health Department recommends annually inspecting and testing wells. Many local municipalities in the county, including Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, have adopted well inspection ordinances. These ordinances require inspections and water testing when selling property with a private well.
Pinellas County established a voluntary well inspection program through an ordinance in 1974. The ordinance applies to all private potable and non-potable water wells in unincorporated areas of the county. It recommends but does not require owners to have wells inspected every five years by the health department. The county also has a point-of-sale inspection ordinance requiring well inspections when selling a property.
Pasco County does not currently have any well inspection ordinances. However, Pasco County Utilities does offer voluntary well inspections upon request by well owners.
Typical Components of a Well Inspection
Comprehensive well inspections in the Tampa Bay area often include:
Visual inspection of well components like the well cap, casing, seals, wiring, and valving
Checking water flow and measuring drawdown
Testing for coliform bacteria and nitrates
Evaluating water quality parameters like pH, hardness, iron, manganese, etc.
Checking for sediment buildup and corrosion is also important. AquaLux Water Softener systems from Aqua-Wise can help reduce sediment and corrosion in Tampa Bay wells by removing hardness-causing minerals.
Inspectors will also check the well area for potential contamination sources like chemical storage, livestock, and septic tanks. They can recommend separation distances to reduce contamination risks. Systems like the AquaGuard UV SYSTEM for Bacteria Removal can provide an added layer of protection against harmful microbes.
Contaminants of Concern in Tampa Bay Wells
Common groundwater contaminants that should be tested for in the Tampa Bay region include:
Coliform bacteria - Coliform bacteria are microbial contaminants found in soil, surface water, and sewage. The presence of total coliform or E. coli bacteria indicates possible septic or surface contamination.
Nitrates - Nitrates often seep into groundwater from fertilizers, sewage, and livestock manure. High nitrate levels can cause health issues.
Sulfate - Sulfate in groundwater is primarily from natural sources like gypsum, but can also enter from industrial waste. High sulfate levels can have laxative effects.
Arsenic - Arsenic occurs naturally in Florida groundwater but can also get into wells from pesticide residues. Long-term arsenic exposure raises cancer risks. The HydroClear Ozone Generator from Aqua-Wise uses ozone for arsenic removal.
Radon - This naturally-occurring radioactive gas can enter wells from surrounding rock and soil. Radon can increase lung cancer risk through inhalation. Proper venting helps reduce radon accumulation.
Hardness minerals - Calcium and magnesium cause hardness and create scale buildup in plumbing and fixtures. The AquaBlue Whole House Filter System from Aqua-Wise reduces hardness for homes near Tampa.
Iron and manganese - These metals cause staining and give water a metallic taste. Oxidizing filters like the AquaCarbonGuard Catalytic Carbon Filter from Aqua-Wise can remove iron and manganese.
Sodium - Saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico into the Floridan Aquifer System is raising sodium levels in some coastal wells. The AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis System from Aqua-Wise removes sodium along with other contaminants.
Mitigating Contamination Risks
Besides testing and treatment, well owners can reduce contamination risks through proper construction and maintenance:
Maintain the well’s cement sanitary seal to prevent surface runoff entering the casing
Periodically disinfect the well to control bacterial growth
Avoid chemical mixing or storage near the well
Divert stormwater away from the well with grading and gutters
Maintain septic tanks to prevent bacterial contamination from leaks
Seal any unused or abandoned wells near the active well
The Retention Tank + Chlorine Injection System from Aqua-Wise provides an easy way to periodically shock chlorinate wells for disinfection. Proper well location is also key - new wells should be sited uphill and far from potential pollution sources like septic tanks, chemical storage areas, and livestock.
Testing Frequency Recommendations
The EPA recommends annual testing of private wells for coliform bacteria and nitrates. More frequent testing may be needed in high-risk situations:
Test more often if initial results show contamination near or above standards
Retest shortly after plumbing, pump, or well repairs
Test after a flood or if you notice changes in water quality
It’s also a good idea to test for common local contaminants like radon, arsenic, and sodium every 3-5 years. Consider annual tests if you have infants, elderly, or immune-compromised people drinking the well water.
Testing through certified labs following proper sampling methods ensures accuracy. Be sure to use a lab accredited for drinking water testing. Work with a qualified well contractor to interpret results and address any issues.
Seeking Expert Assistance
While regulations are limited, protecting your water quality is important. Partnering with a well professional provides expertise to safely maintain and operate your well:
Inspectors identify issues like sediment buildup, corrosion, and equipment defects.
Water testing through an accredited lab checks for health hazards.
Contractors can fix well problems and install treatment equipment like filtration and disinfection systems.
In the Tampa area, Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions employs certified professionals for well inspections, water testing, maintenance, and treatment installations. Their full-service approach provides options like the WellFusion Well Water Treatment Systems to resolve a wide range of water quality issues.
Relying on untreated well water is a gamble. Don’t wait for regulations – be proactive in protecting the water supply for your home and family. Schedule a well inspection and water test at least annually. Fixing issues early prevents more serious problems down the road.
EPA Private Well Owners: https://www.epa.gov/privatewells