Can You Have Expired Water?

Sometimes we get questions about whether old well water can “go bad” or expire. After all, if you use an old well, some people might get the impression that the water is stagnant or getting old somehow. Does well water get old? The truth can be quite interesting! The water you’re drinking may very well have been there for billions of years. You might be drinking the same water as the dinosaurs! In this article, we’ll talk about old well water and if it’s safe to drink.

How Does Water Get Into Your Well

Groundwater takes a pretty long time to get in your well, speaking on a broad scale. Water lands on the surface from rain, melts down from snow, and filters down through layer after layer of rock and sediment. As the water travels underground, it is often protected from contamination. It moves slowly, around a foot every day at the most, and collects in aquifers. It’s more common for water to move around a foot every month.

When you drill a well, you’re not drilling into a tank of water that’s been sitting in one place. Every aquifer is a constantly changing, dynamic system. The groundwater is always in motion. Even the rate of motion is always in flux – The deeper you go, the slower the water moves. The water moves from the recharge points to discharge points like lakes, rivers, and streams. It may even discharge into a well! Because the water is so slow-moving, there can be very old water in an aquifer. The recharge rate for every aquifer is different for every water source.

How Old Is Your Well Water?

Usually, when you dig a well, the water you drink won’t be thousands of years old. Most of the well water you get will be under ten years old. But, of course, if you dig deeper to the slower moving water, it could be much older. It’s still water, even if it was thousands, millions, or billions of years old. So there are bound to be many different ages of water in your well. Water of different ages may taste different because of more dissolved minerals… But it isn’t like dairy. There isn’t a point where well water “expires.”

Can There be Expired Water?

That’s not to say that the water can’t become contaminated. Any new well should have its water treated, and every well should be tested annually. Contaminants like runoff from agricultural fields or livestock pens can get into a well. So can wastewater from a damaged septic system. However, these contaminants have nothing to do with the water’s age. Instead, bacteria may thrive on minerals in the water, like iron or sulfur bacteria.

No matter how long they’ve been down there, treatment takes care of them and removes them from your water. Treatment is an essential part of every well, especially older wells. This isn’t necessarily because the water will be dangerous, though. It’s often that the water quality isn’t what you or your family expect without treatment.

As the water constantly moves, it’s important to monitor the quality and notice any changes. For example, more minerals, bacteria, or even chemicals can move into your water from a place further “upstream.” When this happens, it’s time to treat your well or update your filtration system.

Visit our website to learn more about when it might be time to treat your well. Then, if you need help with that, don’t hesitate to give us a call.