Surface Water & Groundwater
St. Joseph County has an abundant supply of groundwater that supplies our residents with drinking water from private or municipal wells. Our groundwater is generally of good quality; however, it is susceptible to contamination from naturally occurring elements and various human activities.
If you have any concerns regarding the quality of your water, please contact the Department of Health at (574) 235-9722.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in rock, soil, and water. In several areas of the county, arsenic exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 mg/L. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and can cause other significant health effects, and drinking water exceeding the MCL should be treated. The SJCDOH recommends installing a granular ferric adsorption filter with AD 33 Technology to remove arsenic from drinking water.
- Human Activities
Human activities can greatly impact the quality of our groundwater. Animal waste, fertilizer runoff, and waste disposal sites can contaminate our drinking water with nitrates. Nitrate levels exceeding the MCL of 10 mg/L is a serious health threat, especially in infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women. An infant who consumes drinking water high in nitrates can develop a condition called blue baby syndrome which restricts the infant's oxygen level.
- E. Coli
E. coli bacteria are found in human and animal feces and are also a serious health threat. Drinking water that is contaminated with E. coli bacteria can be lethal, especially in children and the elderly. Another type of bacteria, total Coliform bacteria, is commonly found in drinking water. Coliform bacteria are not typically harmful but are an indicator that the conditions are right for harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, to grow.
- Water Testing Requirements
The SJCDOH requires drinking water to be tested by a certified water lab 30 days after a new well is installed and for properties that have wells that are transferring ownership.