Private Water Systems- Top 7 Causes of Outbreaks and the Best Way to Prevent Them

Are you getting water from a private well, open stream, or a spring?

If yes, then congratulations, you are one of the blessed ones enjoying fresh water right from the ground!

Despite not being regulated by EPA, fresh groundwater is superior to municipal water in many ways.

This is because, in comparison with municipal/public water, it contains fewer contaminants and harmful disinfectants.

Furthermore, as the water does not have to travel miles through canals and pipelines, it rarely contains Pollutants such as sewerage-water and industrial wastes.

However, there still have been cases of massive outbreaks in the past that have killed thousands.

So, as a private well owner, it is your utmost responsibility to know the causes behind these outbreaks and choose the best method to protect your family from such hazards.

To make it easy for you, we have done thorough research and covered all the needed information in this post.

So, without further delay, let’s dive right into our topic!

Causes of Outbreaks in Private Water Systems

According to the CDC, the following are the top 7 causes of private water system outbreaks:

Hepatitis A

It is one of the most contagious viruses around and can cause severe liver disease even with microscopic amounts.

The symptoms of this virus can last up to two months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, jaundice, and acute liver failure.


When it comes to water, giardia is one of the most dangerous intestinal parasitic diseases in the United States.

Its symptoms include diarrhea, gas, greasy stools, abdominal pain, dehydration, skin problems, hives, generalized weakness, and anemia.


Campylobacter causes around 1.5 million illnesses each year alone in the United States, and about 33 million deaths throughout the world.

The symptoms of campylobacteriosis include bloody diarrhea, headache, hepatitis, abortions, joint pain, paralysis, and death in children and elderly patients.


This organism causes nearly 180 million cases and 1 million deaths per year.

Its symptoms include bloody or non-bloody diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, eye irritations, and painful urination, joint pain, severe dehydration, and death.

Escherichia Coli

This bacterium is the most studied free-living organism and causes around 2.8 illnesses per year. In the USA, it is responsible for one-fourth of all the epidemics that have been reported by now.

It causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody or non-bloody diarrhea, urinary tract infection, and hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a disease characterized by the breakdown of blood cells and kidney damage. As a result, the dead cells appear in urine, changing its color to red.

Salmonella and Cryptosporidium

Salmonella is a bacteria that causes 1.3 million infections, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States alone.

On the other hand, Cryptosporidium is a chlorine-resistant parasite.

Both organisms cause a similar type of disease, which are characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and severe dehydration.

Salmonella further causes a disease called typhoid, which annually kills around 60,000 worldwide.

Arsenic, Gasoline, Nitrate, Phenol, Selenium, and Yersinia enterocolitica

These contaminants cause the following diseases:


It causes abdominal pain, skin rashes, numbness, tremors, lungs, or renal failure.


It causes throat pain, burning sensation in the esophagus, abdominal pain, and bloody stools.


It can cause diarrhea, frequent urination, tremors, anemia, and low tolerance to exercise or any other such activity.


Phenol mostly causes nausea, vomiting, and cramps.

However, in some severe cases, it may also cause corrosive injuries to the mouth, stomach, and intestines.


The most common clinical signs of selenium toxicity include gradual hair loss and nail brittleness. Other symptoms include skin rashes, fatigue, irritability, and mental abnormalities.

Yersinia enterocolitica

Yersinia causes fever, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea in young children.

In older children, teens, and adults, yersinia causes pain on the right of the abdomen that mimics appendicitis.

Prevention of Outbreaks

Now, as we are aware of our enemies, let’s set our focus on how to get rid of them!

Many methods can help us prevent these outbreaks. However, all of these have certain drawbacks.

So, what can we use to get rid of all these contaminants from our private wells?

You guessed it right, a water filtration system!

Yes, installing a water filter is the best way to get rid of all these pesky contaminants.

A water filter has many advantages over other methods like boiling water or chlorination. These include:

  • Filtration is an automated process, unlike boiling or chlorinating the water.
  • It does not increase the concentration of contaminants as the water-boiling process does.
  • It is free from the harmful effects of added chemicals, such as chlorine.

Choosing a Water Filter

Choosing a water filter depends upon the type and quantity of contaminants, your budget, and your needs.

If the quantity of the pollutants is less and your budget is low, go for a faucet filter. These are cheap, easy to install and provide pinpoint protection.

If the quantity of the contaminants is high, but you are on a low budget, then go for a reverse osmosis filter.

Reverse osmosis filters, such as Express Water Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System, are cost-effective and eliminate 99.99% of the contaminants.

Finally, if you are on a decent budget, buy a whole house water filter!

No, this will not cost you fortunes. A top-quality whole house water filter such as the iSpring 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System costs only around $300 and provides years-long protection!

In conclusion, owning a private water system or water-well have more benefits than loss. However, the downside is that most governments do not regulate the safety of these systems.

So, as a private water-well owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you and your loved ones are drinking disease-free water.

Luckily, you can fulfill this responsibility by installing a good quality water filter and doing its proper maintenance.

This one-time investment will keep you healthy and save your family from diseases and loads of medical bills!

In the long run, every penny spent today will save you tons tomorrow!