Should I Filter Well Water in California?

California water usage


If your family lives in Los Angeles, California and relies on well water, filtering could be essential. Here’s everything you need to know about well and water quality protection in California.


Protecting water quality for California homes on well water.

Only about 5% of California residents get drinking water from a well. It's not all that common in Los Angeles, but that still means more than 2 million Californians get water from private wells or small water systems serving less than 15 connections.

Wildfires can compromise water quality during active burning and for months (sometimes even years) after. In addition, well water quality is not regulated, so well owners are encouraged to protect and test their water sources regularly. What can you do to make sure your well water is safe from wildfire and other forms of contamination? Start by reading this.

The first step is to protect the well itself.

Preventing groundwater contamination in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California is the best way to keep well water clean.With wildfires burning, it’s difficult to control the contaminants reaching your well water. That’s why we have some home water filtration system recommendations below.

But you shouldn’t abandon all hope of protecting your water source. The U.S. EPA recommends private well owners establish a zone of protection around their well. It includes recommendations for space where low impact, medium impact and high impact are acceptable.

Low impact activities are alright within 50 feet of the well. Examples include:

  • Recreation space
  • Homes
  • Casual entertaining space (with patio furniture, etc...)

Medium impact activities are acceptable 50 feet away from the well. These include:

  • A garage
  • Boat storage
  • City sewer lines

High impact activities are only safe beyond 100 feet from the well, including:

  • Chemical storage
  • Animal enclosures
  • Manure or compost piles
  • Car repair
  • Septic systems

If in doubt, assume your activity is high impact and keep away from the well.

What about well inspections?

You can control a lot, but not everything.

Well water outside Los Angeles and across California should be inspected every year. Even a single year of small but continuing contamination can have a huge impact on the quality of your drinking water, and the health of your family.

A well inspection should include a close look for any cracks in the casing and seal. You can perform the inspection yourself, but a state-licensed contractor is required to complete repairs.

Filter the water coming out of your tap.

A good home water filtration system is your insurance policy against the contamination you can’t control from wildfires.

It is important to ensure that the water coming from the well is microbiologically safe (free from bacteria) with the addition of a Chlorination or Ultra Violet system installed prior to one of the following recommended drinking water systems:

No matter how meticulous you are with protection around your well, contamination from California’s wildfires will make it into your drinking water supply, and a water filtration system at the tap is your only certain protection.