A few years ago, while testing customer-supplied water samples in our lab to make equipment recommendations, I noticed a slight surface sheen in one beaker of water. Rather than immediately running a camphor test for the presence/absence of oil, the color prompted me to approach the surface with a flame. The material on or in the water sample ignited and supported a flame for a few moments. Had the material simply ignited in a single, rapid whoosh, methane caused by decaying organic material would be the cause, but this was obviously different.
Having tested thousands of water samples as a lab manager years earlier, the above was so unusual that it piqued my curiosity. All I knew was that the sample came from a residential well in the Ramona, CA area. A longtime resident and plumber in the area told us that beginning in the WWll era, defense manufacturers and others would bury drums of spent or dirty chemicals. At the time, what is known as East County now encompassing many communities, was sparsely populated and a tempting disposal area. It wouldn’t be a surprise if there were numerous such areas scattered around the US and elsewhere. I believe we recommended a combination of activated carbon and organically modified clay.
This is one example of a surprise contaminate in a well water sample. Typically, residential well water supplies are minimally tested when first drilled and not again until something obvious (discoloration, offensive odor, corrosion, etc.) is noticed or the home is sold. Be aware that the aquafer supplying a well can spread out for miles and be exposed to not only discarded chemicals but agricultural insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. Animal waste causing nitrates and harmful bacteria is also a common problem. Also be aware that a water test is a snapshot in time and that such things as heavy water use by a close, large well such a golf course, a new subdivision or heavy rainfall can alter test results dramatically.
Dime Water has staff engineers and an extensive array of products enabling us to identify and cure even the most difficult water problems. Of equal importance, we specialize in treating customers’ water with processes that often eliminate or dramatically reduce drain waste which is critical in areas where low production and questionable wells are very common. Additionally, these processes require no salt or chemicals which can negatively impact septic systems.