Knoxville and Nashville Residents – What’s in Your Well Water?

Many people in the United States use well water as the primary supply of water to their home. Wells are beneficial for two primary reasons: First, they don’t cost anything (other than the cost of the pump and drilling ). Second, they allow homes without access to municipal (city) water to still maintain a water supply (See also rainwater harvesting).

In today’s article, we are going to take a closer look at well water. Continue reading to learn more.

Well Water

Well water does have it’s benefits as stated above, but it also can come with some difficult realities. First, it’s hard to truly know how much water you are tapped into. Will this well supply you for 20 years? 10? 5? Water availability for wells can be a slight nag on the mind. But in some cases, families will go years on the same well. You hear stories about how a person’s grandfather used the same well they are using today! As with many things in life, sometimes it works out great, other times not so much.

Second, well water quality can be, and often is, an issue. Because well water can be exposed to so many different minerals, rocks, dirt, and other contaminants, it should come as no surprise that this is the case. We’ll get more into that very soon.

If you are on a well, and have questions about water quality or availability, or if you have any other options, feel free to contact our team. We’d be glad to help.

Contaminants of Well Water

Some well water is fantastic. No odor, clear, tastes great – this is a major blessing if this is your experience. But if it’s not, you’re probably more prone to say that well water is frustrating. Here’s why:

First, well water is hard to predict. A well that is 100 yards from another well can be composed of entirely different contaminants! There is no flat line standard. Now, some geographical areas are more prone to experience certain contaminants than others, but even within those areas can be special pockets.

Second, WELL WATER CHANGES. Read that sentence again. It does! If you drill a well and for the first year, experience clear, odor free water, that does not mean that the water will remain that way for an extended period of time. New water sources could enter into your well, contaminants could break-free from construction taking place miles away, there is a host of reasons why your well could change.

This makes is especially difficult to treat. For instance, say you are on a well that is tested positive for 5 ppm (parts per million) of iron, and water system is installed to treat 5 ppm of iron. But then 6 months later, the well changes to 10 ppm of iron, or it drops down to 1 ppm of iron and 3 ppm of sulfur! It can be difficult and expensive to maintain quality water with changing wells.

The Big Four:

Here are the four of the most common well water contaminants that we experience here in Knoxville, TN and Nashville, TN.


Sulfur is a frustrating contaminant to experience in well water. Why? It causes that “rotten egg smell”. This is possible to remove through the use of water filtration equipment.


Iron can causes a metallic taste in the water as well as orange staining. This is possible to remove through the use of water filtration equipment.


Water hardness is the presence of calcium and magnesium within the water. Had water builds up scale deposits on most everything it touches. Dishes, glass shower doors, plumbing, water using appliances, water heaters, but also your skin and hair. A water softener will remove hardness from the water.


Coliform and E. Coli are bacteria often found in well water. Coliform in itself is not dangerous, but merely is a warning that points to the possibility of E. coli being present. Because well water and spring water are exposed to bacteria without any water disinfection, every well and spring water source should have an ultraviolet light system to eliminate bacteria (or a comparable disinfection system).

Well Water Test

There are many other contaminants that can be present in well water including:

  • Sand
  • Arsenic
  • Silt
  • Sediment
  • Natural gas
  • Natural Fluoride
  • Chlorides
  • Pesticides

This is just a small list. If you are interested in truly knowing what is in your well, we recommend a National Testing Laboratory Well Water Test.

The tests that a most water treatment dealers provide will only give details on P.H., Hardness, Sulfur, and Iron – sometimes bacteria (but that would have to be performed at a lab)

The test I mentioned above will check for 107 contaminants. But of course, like I stated earlier, well water can change.

Solution to Poor quality or quantity wells – Rainwater Harvesting

If you are experiencing serious problems with well water availability issues or quality issues, rainwater harvesting may be the solution to your problem. Rainwater harvesting provides an alternate water source for whole-house supply water (drinking, washing, cooking, bathing, etc).

Feel free to reach out to our team to learn more about well water or rainwater harvesting!

Want to learn even more about whole-home water purification in Knoxville and Nashville? Check out our Knoxville and Nashville Residents Guide to Water Purification.

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