The American Ground Water Trust www.AGWT.org, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) education organization dedicated to providing accurate information about water resources and water wells to homeowners and others. It is an excellent resource for well owners.
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Terms and definitions used in the water industry
An underground formation or group of formations in rocks and soils containing enough ground water to supply wells and springs.
A reverse flow in water pipes. A difference in water pressures pulls water from sources other than the well into a home’s water system, for example waste water or flood water. Also called back siphonage.
Microscopic living organisms; some are helpful and some are harmful. “Good” bacteria aid in pollution control by consuming and breaking down organic matter and other pollutants in septic systems, sewage, oil spills, and soils. However, “bad” bacteria in soil, water, or air can cause human, animal, and plant health problems.
A group of related bacteria whose presence in drinking water may indicate contamination by disease-causing microorganisms.
Community Water System
A water system which supplies drinking water to 25 or more of the same people year-round in their residences.
Meeting all state and federal drinking water regulations.
Anything found in water (including microorganisms, minerals, etc.) that may be harmful to human health.
A chemical (commonly chlorine, chloramine, or ozone) or physical process (e.g., ultraviolet light) that kills microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
The water that systems pump and treat from aquifers (natural reservoirs below the earth’s surface).
Mineral-based compounds such as metals, nitrates, and asbestos. These contaminants are naturally-occurring in some water, but can also get into water through farming, chemical manufacturing, and other human activities. EPA has set legal limits on 15 inorganic contaminants.
Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)
The highest level of a contaminant that EPA allows in drinking water. MCLs ensure that drinking water does not pose either a short-term or long-term health risk. EPA sets MCLs at levels that are economically and technologically feasible. Some states set MCLs that are more strict than the EPA’s.
Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG)
The level of a contaminant at which there would be no risk to human health. This goal is not always economically or technologically feasible, and the goal is not legally enforceable.
Tiny living organisms that can be seen only with the aid of a microscope. Some microorganisms can cause acute health problems when consumed in drinking water. Also known as microbes.
Carbon-based chemicals, such as solvents and pesticides, which can get into water through runoff from cropland or discharge from factories. EPA has set legal limits on 56 organic contaminants.
The water that is analyzed for the presence of EPA-regulated drinking water contaminants.
Secondary Drinking Water Standards
Non-enforceable federal guidelines regarding cosmetic effects (such as tooth or skin discoloration) or aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) of drinking water.
Water in its natural state, prior to any treatment for drinking.
The cloudy appearance of water caused by the presence of tiny particles. High levels of turbidity may interfere with proper water treatment and monitoring.
Ultraviolet Disinfection System
System that eliminates bacteria in water using ultraviolet radiation.
The land area from which water drains into a stream, river, or reservoir.
The tubular lining of a well. Also a steel or plastic pipe installed during construction to prevent collapse of the well hole.
Wellhead Protection Area
The area surrounding a drinking water well or well field which is protected to prevent contamination of the well(s).
Glossary Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency Website