National Ground Water Association: Low Risk of COVID-19 Contaminating Private Water Wells

Apr 22, 2020, 13:58 PM
Apr 22, 2020, 14:04 PM


NGWA urges all private well owners to perform regular maintenance on their systems to decrease likelihood of viral contamination.

(WESTERVILLE, OH — April 20, 2020) The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has published an article outlining the potential risk of COVID-19 contaminating private water well systems.

“Groundwater, Wells, and Coronavirus”, authored by NGWA Director of Science and Technology William M. Alley, Ph.D., and NGWA Regulatory Affairs Manager Charles A. Job, reports private water wells are at low risk of transmitting COVID-19.

While the risk to private water well systems is low, various viruses, including COVID-19, are still a potential threat to drinking water from private wells.

“There’s more to be learned about the behavior of the COVID-19 virus in water and wastewater,” said Alley. “Based on knowledge to date, the risk to private wells is extremely low.”

The most effective action to protect against viruses, including COVID-19, from contaminating a water supply is regular maintenance of well water systems and wastewater septic systems. “Groundwater, Wells, and Coronavirus” also highlights the importance of proper septic system maintenance as well as “setback”.

Setback is a requirement that a water supply well be at least a certain distance from a septic system or sewer line to provide adequate time for sufficient natural degradation of chemicals and die-off of harmful organisms that may endanger well water.

“The setback distance from well to septic system has a long history and has been built into state and local water codes to protect groundwaters tapped by wells,” said Job. “The setback allows time for pathogens that may be carried underground to die, be filtered out, or be adsorbed onto soil particles. Setbacks should take into account an area’s soils and geology.”

In addition to proper maintenance of water systems, treatment can be another important defense against pathogens in water supply, if determined by water testing to be needed. Distillation, ultraviolet (UV) treatment, and reverse osmosis technologies for households are all effective in removing viruses from a water.

“Groundwater, Wells, and Coronavirus”, which is now available on the website of NGWA’s flagship publication Water Well Journal®, is NGWA’s most recent resource on COVID-19’s impact on groundwater and the water well industry.

“NGWA has been an industry leader from the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “We feel, as experts in groundwater science and technology, it’s our duty to provide these resources to our membership and the general public as we continue to fight this outbreak.”

For more information on properly maintaining your water well system and to find a local water well contractor, well owners are encouraged to visit is a joint venture of NGWA and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership as part of the U.S. EPA-funded program “Improving Water Quality through Training and Technical Assistance to Private Well Owners.”


The National Ground Water Association is a not-for-profit professional society and trade association for the global groundwater industry. Our members around the world include leading public and private sector groundwater scientists, engineers, water well system professionals, manufacturers, and suppliers of groundwater-related products and services. The Association’s vision is to be the leading groundwater association advocating for responsible development, management, and use of water.