The most common issues with ground water may be hardness.
Hard water has not been shown to cause health problems, but can be a nuisance as it may cause soap curds and deposits to form on pipes and other plumbing fixtures. Over time this can reduce the diameter of the pipes.
Calcium and magnesium are found in ground water that has come in contact with certain rocks and minerals, especially limestone and gypsum. When these materials are dissolved, they release calcium and magnesium. Hard water is considered bad for your plumbing, but people with heart or circulatory problems may want to consult their physician about drinking softened water, because the softening process removes calcium and magnesium, and adds sodium to the water.
Iron and Manganese
A “rusty” or metallic taste in water is a result of iron, and sometimes manganese, in ground water. They not only create a bad taste, but they also can stain pipes and clothing.
Iron and manganese are naturally occurring, and most ground water has some amount of dissolved iron and manganese in it. It comes from contact with minerals that contain iron, such as pyrite.
There are several treatment methods. Installing a water softener may help if iron and manganese are present in low quantities and the softener is designed for their removal. Aeration (the addition of oxygen to the water), chlorination, and feeding ozone or hydrogen peroxide can aid in the precipitation of iron, which is removed from the water by filtration. Potassium permanganate feed with manganese greensand filters, and some recently designed synthetic media, will remove iron and manganese, as well.
Most nitrogen in ground water comes from the atmosphere. Some plants can “attach” nitrogen from the atmosphere onto their roots. The nitrogen not used by the plants is then released into the soil.
Nitrogen compounds also can work their way into ground water through fertilizers, manure, and urine from farm animals, sewage, and landfills.
The most common forms in groundwater are ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. Nitrates can be especially toxic to children under six months of age. Exposure to ammonia also presents a health risk. It is toxic to aquatic life such as fish, and it interferes with water treatment.
There are a variety of treatment methods to correct this problem, including reverse osmosis systems with water softeners to remove nitrates and nitrites, and oxidation to remove small amounts of ammonia. However, treatment should be a last resort. Removing the source of contamination is the first priority. You should also be sure to protect the area around the wellhead from contamination by animals or fertilizers.