In 1832, Cholera weaved its way through New York State, unnerving residents of villages and hamlets along the Erie Canal. Once introduced into the environment via human waste, cholera flourished in ground water and eventually made its way back into thirsty human hosts. Once infected, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance rapidly occurred. Cholera killed about 50% of the people it infected, sometimes within 24 hours of their first symptom.
It is no happy accident of nature that US drinking water is some of the safest in the world. Our rivers, lakes and ground water are inherently no cleaner than any other place on earth. We can thank lessons learned from episodes like the 1832 Cholera Pandemic and the subsequent development of laws and regulations governing public and private water supplies.
Almost 2 million New Yorkers use privately owned residential wells, usually reliant on ground water and at risk for contamination from a variety of chemicals, minerals and microbes. Contamination of private wells affects not only the household served by the well but nearby households using the same aquifer. If you drink water from your own supply, it is your responsibility to maintain the condition of your well on a regular basis and reduce or eliminate potential sources of pollution. It should be no surprise that those buying or building a new home dependent on well water, must confirm the water is safe to drink.
Top Six Causes of Disease Outbreaks in Wells (CDC)
Campylobacter and E. coli (tie)
Cryptosporidium and Salmonella (tie)
Arsenic, gasoline, nitrate, phenol and selenium (tie)