Campus News

Stay safe when drinking spring water

Many people enjoy collecting and drinking water from springs scattered across North Georgia because of its natural flavor. The main difference in taste between spring water and water from municipal sources may be the presence of natural minerals, such as calcium, and the lack of chlorination.

But just because it tastes better doesn’t mean it is safe to drink. Spring water sources are not tested or treated and are susceptible to contamination. Because of this vulnerability, it is recommended that people avoid drinking spring water, particularly if they are young children, pregnant, elderly or have compromised immune systems.

The UGA Cooperative Extension offices offer water testing for well users and recommend that wells used for drinking water be tested for bacteria immediately upon construction and on a yearly basis after that. Well owners typically request basic water quality tests and microbiological analyses, which test for the presence of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria.

Although it is possible to have spring water tested, the test will only report if the water was safe on the day it was sampled. Because contamination can happen at any time, the safety of the spring water is never guaranteed, even if a given test comes back clean.

If you have to drink spring water, you should boil it for several minutes or use water treatment filters to reduce the risk of illness.

Source: UGA Cooperative Extension