News Release – Microcystins

Could Microcystins Be In My Private Drinking Water Supply?

Temple, PA, August 5, 2014 (Suburban Property Inspections, Inc.) — If microcystins could shut down the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio could they be in my private drinking water supply?

Since Microcystins are the result of a harmful algal bloom (HAG) it is reasonable to conclude that properly constructed deep wells would not be affected. Algae needs sunlight to function and the water in most deep wells doesn’t see sunshine at all therefore no algae and no microcystins.

So it’s impossible right?

Wide scale testing of private well water for microcystins has not as of yet been performed so we really don’t know for sure. If surface water can enter a well microcystins in addition to many other contaminants have the potential to be there.

Old fashioned springs may be different, they often are contaminated by surface water so we will not consider them here. A considerable amount of care and likely water treatment is needed if a spring is used for consumption.

How about private wells? The most important thing you can do is protect your water supply. The better you construct it and protect it the better the water will be. Unfortunately a poorly constructed well nearby can contaminate even a properly constructed well. Periodic inspections of a well either by a professional or by an educated homeowner are a good start. Sometimes Mother Nature interferes with water quality with formations such as sink holes. Sink holes allow surface water directly into the ground water bypassing the natural filtration that would otherwise occur. This allows many contaminants a free ride into potential water supplies.

So, now we are doomed, right?

While absolute safety can never be guaranteed, there are practical and effective measures that can be performed for reasonable cost.

Regular testing of the water source is a key to protecting your family’s health. One of the most common test for water safety is a total coliform bacteria. While most coliform bacteria are harmless their presence in a private water supply indicates something unsanitary is getting into the water supply. Ponds, creeks, rivers and most shallow wells as well as springs all normally contain total coliform bacteria. As such they are not considered a sanitary or safe water supply without treatment. If total coliform is found in your water supply an additional test is usually performed for fecal coliform or E-coli. If fecal coliform or e-coli is found it indicates contamination by fecal matter. This still may be from a surface water source if the surface water has been contaminated by fecal matter. The presence of fecal matter is a serious concern. Boiling the water will kill harmful bacteria but if there are chemical contaminants such as nitrates, lead or microsystins they will only be concentrated by the boiling process. If you have contaminated well water it is best to consult a professional for guidance on treatment. Visit for more information on water contaminants and testing.

What about that pond in your yard that is totally covered in greenish muck?

You may be growing microcystins right in your own yard. In an algae covered pond it is best to consider that microsystins are present and keep humans and animals for consuming the water. When the pond looks like pea soup it is usually not very attractive for swimming, but your dog might not feel the same way. If animals consume the water or bath in it and then lick their fur as most dogs do, they may be exposed to harmful levels of microcystins.

As the summer sunshine fades into fall so will the news items about microcystins use this as a wakeup call to inspect, protect and test your individual water supply.


Richard C. Stump, II Industry Consultant 610-929-1154

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