Indiana offers tools to help ease well water worries

Elise Davis, 9, is brushing with a lot less water, knowing any day it could all dry up.
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Nearly 500,000 Indiana residents get their water supply from private underground wells. Many of those homeowners are worried about their wells, wondering if they'll go dry or become unsafe.

Elise Davis, 9, is brushing with a lot less water, knowing any day it could all dry up. Her family's water supply comes from an underground well.

The mild winter and dry summer has left them and thousands of other homeowners on wells guessing.

"You're always wondering when you turn the faucet on, is it going to be there? Because you don't know. There's no way to tell what the level is," explained Jaynie Davis.

A water level probe can help. It's not very sophisticated, but is a time tested method that plumbing and well contractors use for checking underground water supplies. A probe is dropped down into the well and when it hits water, a buzzer or light goes off.

Mark Basch oversees water availability, rights and usage at the Department of Natural Resources. He says the state has more than 400,000 well records. Homeowners can access those records online to learn more about their wells, and compare test data.

"Generally ground water levels hold up pretty well during drought conditions," added Basch, who says Indiana has a healthy amount of ground water, particularly in the northern part of the state.

But there are some signs a private well could be going dry.

"If they were to notice a lot of air in their lines when they turn their faucet on," said Basch.

And then there's water "quality."

"Whatever contaminates are in the well, their concentration level would go up," explained Brad Davis.

"A lot of times folks will notice a change in taste, particularly when it comes to iron concentrations or manganese, those are just naturally dissolved constituents. They aren't necessarily health hazards, but they can create taste and odor problems," Basch told Eyewitness News.

The Davises have a working filtration system. The last time they had their water tested was two years ago.

In a year of dwindling supply, they want to know if what they have is safe.

That's where the Indiana State Department of Health comes in.

The State Agency conducts inexpensive water tests, an added price private well owners can choose to pay for peace of mind.

DNR Well Database

Indiana Department of Health: Drinking Water Test