Area rural residents have a new tool to look up information on their drinking water wells. Researchers at the University of Iowa have built an interactive online map for residents, engineers, and well drillers. University of Iowa engineering professor David Cwiertny helped design the map so users can see how deep wells are dug and look for testing results on nitrates, bacteria, and arsenic.
The water well forecasting system is now available on the website of the UI’s Hydroscience and Engineering program.
It’s estimated 300,000 Iowans rely on private wells for their drinking water. Free testing for potential contaminants is available through the Iowa Department of Public Health and through county sanitarian offices. Ron Kvale is the Winnebago County Sanitarian.
Earlier this spring, flooding became a major concern, not only because of the shortened time it gave farmers to plant, but also the threat of runoff into wells. Drainage from farmland into the wells might have contained heavier than normal amounts of contaminants. Chances of contaminants entering the water well system go down if the well is capped and the deeper that the well is dug which is why this new interactive online map is so valuable.
If contaminants are found in the water, Kvale suggests using local water well professionals to chlorinate and clean the system.