A water well can be a source of clean, potable water if it is properly located, adequately installed and carefully maintained.  As a homeowner with a private water supply, it is your responsibility to properly maintain your well so as to protect Michigan’s groundwater resources.  A water supply system is an investment, to replace or find another groundwater supply can be very costly.

What is Groundwater?

Most groundwater is fresh water.  Many think of groundwater as part of a system of underground lakes and streams.  This is true in only a few cases however.  Groundwater is usually found in cracks and spaces between rocks and between the soil particles that are under the earth’s surface.  These spaces act a bit like a giant underground sponge.

The area found just below the earth’s surface with pore spaces filled partly with water and partly with air is called the unsaturated zone.  This groundwater is generally not a reliable source of drinking water.  The water in deeper spaces completely filled or saturated with water is called groundwater.  The top of this saturated zone is the water table.  Water for drinking and other uses is drawn from a saturated zone called an aquifer.  About 95% of the U.S. total water supply of fresh water is groundwater.  The remaining freshwater is surface water, found in lakes and streams.

How Your Well Works

When the pump in your well is in operation, the water level in the aquifer around the well is lowered.  The area affected by this pumping is greatest next to the well and gradually decreases as the distance away from the well increases.  This area is known as the wellhead area of influence.  Ground water flow in the area of influence is generally toward the well.  Therefore, any contaminants present in the area may move toward the well.  It is for this reason that proper handling, application and storage of chemicals or fertilizers is important to protecting your source of drinking water.