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Notice to Readers: Ground Water Awareness Week, March 12--18, 2006
Each year, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) sponsors Ground Water Awareness Week to focus
public attention on protecting ground water and the importance of private well maintenance and water testing
(1). Other partners in Ground Water Awareness Week include CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey,
and the Groundwater Foundation.
During 2001--2002, a total of 31 waterborne-illness outbreaks were reported to CDC; 16 (52%) of these outbreaks
were attributed to improperly treated or untreated groundwater
(2). Private wells typically provide untreated or minimally
treated groundwater for drinking. Because private wells are not covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, NGWA and its
partners recommend annual well-maintenance checkups and water tests for contaminants of health concern
(1,3). Certain contaminants, such as arsenic, can occur naturally in groundwater
(4), whereas others are linked to well placement, construction,
or maintenance. For example, improper storage or disposal of hazardous substances such as fuel, oil, fertilizer, or pesticides
can endanger well water quality (4). Improper disposal of household waste, such as pouring cleaning products or other
chemicals down the drain or toilet into septic systems, can also contaminate groundwater used for drinking
(5). In addition, wells are susceptible to bacterial contamination if surface runoff pools around the wellhead or if the wellhead is too close to an
animal enclosure, feedlot, or septic system drain field
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