The National Ground Water Association this month released its best suggested practice (BSP) guidelines for hydrogen sulfide issues in residential water well systems.

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas emitted by the breakdown of organic material in the absence of oxygen. Hydrogen sulfide is water-soluble, and gives off a rotten egg odor when it reacts with dissolved oxygen. NGWA says that, even in low concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can corrode well and plumbing components. In very high concentrations, it can cause health problems for water well contractors servicing wells. The biggest danger comes from confined spaces.

The group’s white paper, “Reducing Problematic Concentrations of Hydrogen Sulfide in Residential Water Well Systems,” includes:

  • Health and safety information relating to hydrogen sulfide
  • Guidance on the interaction of hydrogen sulfide with geologic and land-use conditions
  • Methodologies for well construction and location
  • Well function considerations
  • Sampling and testing for hydrogen sulfide in groundwater
  • Mitigation of hydrogen sulfide in water well systems

A group of NGWA professionals developed the BSP guidelines on hydrogen sulfide based on extensive industry experience and research. Members can download the document, as well as other BSP documents, as a PDF through the NGWA’s online bookstore. Nonmembers can download BSP documents for a nominal charge. Call 800-551-7379 for more information.

 NGWA is a nonprofit that supports responsible development, management and use of water resources. It’s comprised of groundwater professionals ranging from contractors to equipment manufacturers to scientists and engineers. For more information, visit