Clearing Away The Clouds Of Turbidity
North American Precis Syndicate
(NAPSI)—The next time you turn on the faucet and fill a glass from a
household well, chances are you’ll see crystal-clear, sparkling water.
There’s a good reason for that: The ground is an excellent filter
for water, and groundwater—the source water for household
wells—is usually of better quality than surface water. This is
especially true when it comes to “turbidity,” an opaqueness or
cloudiness in water caused by suspended matter.
When There’s A Problem
When the water from a well is cloudy, it may be cause for concern. That
murkiness could indicate a breach in your well system. Such breaches could
affect the water’s clarity, taste and odor—and even present a
The suspended matter in turbid water can be both inorganic (matter other
than plant or animal) or organic. The size of suspended matter can range from
microscopic to coarse grains like sand.
water looks like this, get it tested by a drinking water testing lab.
Of greatest concern are disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria,
viruses and protozoa. Groundwater may contain E. coli, giardia and
cryptosporidium, and cause physical symptoms that range from moderate to
severe gastrointestinal problems.
Sometimes a breach in the well system can be at or near the surface, such
• A hole or break in the well casing
• A broken well cap
• Deteriorated grouting that has allowed surface runoff to
infiltrate the well.
Turbidity could also be due to a failing septic system that has overloaded
the groundwater with untreated or inadequately treated sewage. Shallower
wells tend to be more vulnerable to a failing septic system.
At other times, turbidity is related to well construction. After a well is
drilled and installed, it still needs what’s known as “well
development.” This process removes loose material resulting from the
drilling process. It leaves the borehole more clean, stable and permeable so
the water flows more freely into the well. Proper well development can
sometimes make a poor well a good one in terms of both water quality and
How To Fix It
The first step toward a solution to turbidity is to have the water tested
by a drinking water testing laboratory. The lab can determine whether there
are any disease-causing microorganisms, and that could provide clues to their
Also, before considering water treatment for turbidity, a water well
system professional should inspect your well system. It’s always better
to treat the cause of a water quality concern—particularly if it
presents a health risk—than to simply treat the result.
An inspection can determine whether the well has a breach, is dirty and
needs to be cleaned, needs to be developed, or is being affected by a failing
If water treatment is necessary, a common approach is filtration.
Different types of filters include:
• A cartridge sediment filter installed in the service line before
• A back-washing sediment filter
• Reverse osmosis, in which water passes through a semipermeable
membrane to remove suspended or dissolved solids.
If turbid water contains microorganisms, filtration is important because
turbidity can impede water disinfection. Filtration and disinfection are
often used in tandem with filtration first, then disinfection.
When considering a filter, compare its specifications to your water test
results to make sure it’s designed to treat what needs to be treated.
Also, consider whether you want to treat all the water coming into the house
or just that coming out of certain taps. This can make a big difference in
the system you choose.
Use a water well system or water treatment system professional to install
a water treatment system. To learn more, visit the National Ground Water
Association website, www.WellOwner.org.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)