Could Your Well Water Be Killing You?

Stephen L Dalton

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CDC Chart Tracking Groundwater in Maine

Coliform and E. coli are more common in well water than most Mainers suspect, and these types of bacteria cause kidney problems, which could lead to renal failure.

In a recent NewsBreak article, we talked about the rising concern of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in Maine. In that piece, we pointed to diabetes and alcohol abuse as reasons for the rise of kidney failure in Maine. Now it seems a Glenburn man discovered his well was causing his kidney damage.

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New England Arsenic in Well Water Graph by Absolute Resource Associates

Bacteria in the Well Water

Daniel Bell, a Glenburn farmer, diagnosed with kidney problems, remembered a recent test on his well water had revealed bacteria. Up until then, he had assumed his well water was fine and safe to drink. As it turns out, it might be making him, his family, and animals on the farm sick from the rare strain of bacteria.

Imagine finding out drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day as recommended by his doctor, and doctors everywhere, induced a long-term liability. His well water contained a strain of bacteria that slowly damaged his kidneys. If it weren’t discovered, it could have led to ESRD.

Daniel Bell’s Diagnosis

The Glenburn farmer stated, “Regular physical workup was done which included blood tests to look for the normal stuff [such as] cholesterol, vitamin levels, liver, and kidney function. Well, to my surprise, they found decreased kidney function. Now, mind you, other than being a smoker, I’ve always been in great health, so there was no reason at all to have kidney issues.”

Months before, when he had the well water tested and discovered small traces of the Coliform bacteria, he thought nothing of it. His independent research led him to realize that his decreased kidney functions and the Coliform bacteria in his well water might be related.

In this Penn State video, Solving Bacteria Problems in Wells and Springs from YouTube, they talk about the dangers of Coliform and E. coli in your well water and suggest a DIY method to remove it. “This 9:58 video discusses various steps homeowners can take to solve or treat bacteria problems in wells, springs, and cisterns used for drinking water.”

A Physician’s Opinion

A physician assistant, Matthew DeRosby, of the Primary Care Clinic Northern Light in Brewer stated, “There is only a certain strain of E. coli that causes kidney damage.”

It is his opinion that Daniel Bell was extremely lucky that coincidences rolled out in his favor. If the bloodwork hadn’t coincided with a recent well water test, they might not have been able to link the cause and effect.

Mind you, the reason for the blood test had nothing to do with his kidneys but was due to an injury. It’s kind of like he hit the lottery. What’s more, he was smart enough to discuss the test results with his doctor to solidify the link.

Takeaways

What can you do to increase your odds against bacterial infections that cause urinary tract infections, nausea, vomiting, reduced urine production, extreme fatigue, muscle & bone pain, unexplained weight loss, and other kidney and renal disease signs and symptoms? If you are experiencing any of these, most notably reduced urine production, see your doctor as soon as possible.

The Environmental and Community Health Division provides Mainers with a website with information on where to get their well water tested, how to fix well water problems, radon testing, as well as how to get financial assistance to clean up arsenic and other contaminants.

They suggest checking your well annually for nitrates and bacteria, even if your water tastes, smells, and looks fine. Plus, they suggest testing “…every 5 years for arsenic, fluoride, uranium, radon, lead, and manganese.”

References:

The Bangor Daily News

The Penn State video, Solving Bacteria Problems in Wells and Springs

The Division of Environmental and Community Health article, Private Well Water Safety and Testing

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Stephen Dalton is a retired US Army First Sergeant with a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Top Writer in Virtual Reality, Sports, Short Story, Design, and Creativity. I especially like writing about design and home improvements.

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