Periodic Cleaning is Important for Owners of Residential Washington Water Wells

Periodically having your Washington water well cleaned is an important part of good maintenance for residential water well owners, the National Ground Water Association said today.

Following are some signs that may indicate the need for a water well system cleaning:

  • The water is turbid, which means it is cloudy or has suspended matter in it.
  • There has been a decrease in the well’s capac​ity — that is, the gallons of water per minute that the pump can supply to the system.
  • The water has developed an odor or taste problem.
  • The water tests positive for total coliform and/or overall biological activity.

Work with a qualified Washington water well system contractor to determine whether a well needs cleaning and what approach should be taken. There are a variety of reasons why a well might need to be cleaned including, but not limited to, the presence of bacteria and the encrustation of well components due to chemical or biological reactions.

NGWA said a well that needs cleaning can be more costly to operate. For exa​mple, a well screen clogged due to encrustation can reduce the flow of water into the well, causing the pump to work harder. This results in higher electrical costs and wear on the pump. The reverse also is true: A well maintained, clean well system offers a positive payoff in extended well pump and water treatment system life, and reduced impacts on plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Some well owners view chlorination as a cure-all for water quality problems. While chlorination might temporarily prevent gas production or other taste and odor problems, NGWA said chlorination alone can leave behind debris or accumulated organic material. Such debris or material may harbor and/or provide a food source for bacteria. Chlorination alone may therefore be ineffective in the long run.

Two basic approaches to well cleaning are the mechanical and chemical methods, with the most effective strategy often being a combination of the two.

Any well cleaning should be followed immediately by a thorough disinfection of the Washington well system and its immediate environment. Disinfection of the well should be completed by the water well contractor to ensure that it is done properly.

For more information on your private Washington water well, contact your local contractor. Also, visit the Web site of the Association,, and its site just for well owners,


News media: For more information, contact NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens at or 800 551.7379 (614 898.7791), ext. 554.

NGWA, a nonprofit organization composed of U.S. and international groundwater professionals — contractors, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, and engineers — is dedicated to advancing groundwater knowledge. NGWA’s vision is to be the leading groundwater association that advocates the responsible development, management, and use of water.​​​​

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