Mystery well water smell and taste

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by tyclo43, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. tyclo43

    tyclo43 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    I recently (beginning of 2010) had my well re-drilled from 382' to 750', hitting approx 7 GPM at 725', with a SWL of 200' below the surface. The original well yield was approximately 10 gallons per hour, which was basically useless for more than two people. The geology is a hard diabase, being uniform the whole way down.

    I installed a 1HP Franklin at 400' below the surface, and the water system seems to work fine. While drilling, I noticed that some of the drillings had what I would call a "moldy/slightly petroleum" smell to them. After we drilled and had the pump installed, the water developed this smell/taste. I had a lab test done for coliform and nitrates, which was good, and had Sears run a hardness (9 grains, but no problem with lather), clear iron (didn't show as containing any), and pH (7).

    I've smelled sulphur water many times in my life, and this doesn't have that same smell. I suspected iron bacteria, but after the clear iron test and due to the fact that I don't have any red staining (my water is also as crystal clear as can be), I think this could be ruled out.

    About 1 week after the smell began, I dropped about 15 calcium hypochlorite tablets in the well, and this took the smell and taste away for about one week, with it then coming back. I then shock treated the well (concentration approx. 300 PPM) for approx. 24 hours, and the smell and taste came back in about two weeks. While draining the shocked water, I would see small clumps of black "slimy" matter here and there.

    Does anyone have any idea what this could be, and if so, what type of recommended equipment could be used to treat it? Thanks for any information.
    -Tyson
  2. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    The black slimy stuff leads me to believe you have iron bacteria which can be treated either by chlorine injection or Hydrogen Peroxide.
  3. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    At 750' it might be an oil well. Could be your lucky day.
  4. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed..........
  5. ferd

    ferd New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Ohio
    I guess I just don't get it. You had 10gpm of good water and that wasn't enough? Around here, we have 5gpm and like it. You learn what you can do and what you can't. But my well is only157' deep with water @ 50'
  6. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    He only had 10 gallons per HOUR.

    Going to have to check for more than coliform and nitrates. Need to know what it is before you can fix it.
  7. tyclo43

    tyclo43 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    If it would have been 10 gpm, I wouldn't have done a thing...it was 10 gph, which roughly equates to 1.5 pints (1/6th of a gallon) per minute. I had a 300 gallon storage tank inline to provide for peak usage, but with a baby on the way and probably expecting more, 240 gallons per day was not enough, and I figured I would drill deeper. My elevation is around 700 feet above MSL.

    Woudn't that be great, to hit some bubblin' gold! Unfortunately, I'm not in the Marcellus Shale (I'm just south of Harrisburg, PA) that they have in the northern part of the state, where they've found natural gas at great depths below the surface. After discussing it with some people I work with (civil engineers), I'm leaning more toward the iron bacteria problem. The toilet bowl test for iron bacteria is N/A with me because my wife has chlorine tablets in the bowl.

    Thanks for everyone's input on this so far.
  8. tyclo43

    tyclo43 New Member

    Messages:
    10
    What is the best test for iron bacteria? Researching online, it appears that the toilet bowl reservoir "observation" test is best. Could you recommend one?
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The best test is to look into the toilet tank for a clear to rusty or black slimy snotty stuff at and below the water line as you flush and wipe a finger tip and palm over the surface.
  10. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Strange though it may sound, the old toilet tank test is about the most accurate method to date.
  11. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    532
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    It won't cure the problem, but it might help the symptom to switch to a galvanized pressure tank. Sometimes the bladder tanks can amplify smells etc. I've had to switch out more than a few, no more complaints.
  12. Bob999

    Bob999 In the Trades

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    When you have your additional testing done be sure to include a test for manganese. It is common in Pennsylvania and can manifest with the characteristics you describe.
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