Drinking from a spring

Does anyone know anything about the risks in drinking from a spring? Or who you would approach to get the water tested?

We have a spring on our land which we have been filling the dogs' bowls from since we moved into our house just over a month ago. Our house is one of three originally built by one family and they still own the property next door. I had an interesting conversation with the sister of the owner earlier who said that the spring water is delicious to drink and that whenever she visits her brother, they always have a carafe with lunch.

So I decided to try some and it is lovely and fresh tasting. Then I got a bit worried about the health risks and boiled the remainder up for a cup of tea!

The spring comes down off a big hill directly behind our house (part-owned by us and part by the neighbour and left wild) and will be from the sandstone rock that is prevalent here. So what are my chances of survival? Would it be advisable to carry on drinking it based on the fact my neighbour and his sister have reached their late sixties safely or is it possible to have the water tested, just to be sure? or should I just stick with the bottled stuff (the tap water here is awful - very hard).

Providing the water passes a test of potability then there's no reason to install anything extra.

Clearly, I am no expert but I would have thought she would need to have the same water tests done we're having done on the spring water. She might not need any filters if the tests pass it as safe to drink.

Is it flowing? If it is truly a natural spring then it reaches the surface alone. In that case, from what you say and the name of the place especially, pumping an ancient source may be difficult without permission. If it is a hand pump, one of the those big wheels or and 'up-down' lever action it would take a specialist metal worker to do it but a modern pump would require permission which could be tricky to get and disadvantageous. In either case it might be expense of little return. Springs dry up occasionally and land use can do that or divert them. Planting trees is one of the biggest offenders in fact.

Find out what you can about the place. Where I am, about 10 minutes walk to the Dordogne but then with a hydroelectricity plant from early 20 century at that place, it is now mainly forest. However, maps show a large area called 'les vieilles vignes' (not les vignes vieilles as one would expect), which describes what the main land use was up until the 1860s and 80s blights that killed off most vines in France. A look at local records show that the two hamlets here were once more prosperous and went into decline during the 20 century, intensive tobacco growing depleted some areas so that trees have been planted instead. The two local pumps, one well kept but dry, supplemented a stream just a couple of hundred yards downhill. That rarely dries up, especially being spring fed. So we can look for where water flows into that. Two springs we know of, one the former inhabitant of this house who is still a neighbour remembers, dried up as the forest grew. One went under our house and fed a large stone container with water. It is still there but never even gets damp. The other, in front of the house, is there somewhere, but probably deep although there is a place it bubbles up to the surface in front of our gate, destroying a patch of road surface after every storm or several days of considerable rain. I know more or less the exact route of the one that feeds our well and was worried when a house was built a few hundred metres away, but so far so good.

Once you get that kind of detail, often from long term local residents and a look at the old Cassini maps to show how it looked once, then considering the viability and purpose of the spring may make better sense. Bear in mind how many of them are more or less only there for some kind of historic sentimental reason rather than for a purpose and that restoration will inevitably cost an arm and a leg.

Take your tests to a laboratory which carries out blood tests etc. Many offer water testing nowadays.

Hello all,

I have the remains of a what I presume is/was a natural source.....I live about 3 mins walk from the Dordogne and the side road nearby is called 'chemin des fontaines'. The ironwork that is still there is held securely/set into an ancient concrete/stone block and all this is situated right by the N. East outside stone wall of the house. I have found in tact pieces of ironwork and carefully stored them in case it might be an idea to re-commission the pump.

Is/would this be worth doing....? Has anyone the 'know-how' ? Why would it have been de-commissioned in the first place ?

In that case it is already included.

Thanks, Brian. No idea if it's on the deeds but the mairie must know about it because it's comes out of a locked "cupboard" at the side of the house. Actually, I had better look for the key for that among. It's probably somewhere among the dozen we've found. I'll ask at the mairie for the local lab details.

Get a test at your local laboratory, make sure the bottle you use is sterile though. Ask at your mairie, pharmacy or doctor's practice if you do not know where the local one is. They give a complete breakdown and it is as cheap as buying a kit but probably far more informative and anyway they are professionals.

Our well is spring fed and as clear and cool as crystal but even though tested it is not graded as potable for some reason. Unless it is on your deeds and is known, keep quiet about it a bit because springs, wells and such sources are supposed to all be registered and can actually put up your tax by a couple of Euros.

Make sure there is no cattle close by to where your spring runs, and you should be fine! Incidentally, I would suggest getting a magnetic scale watcher and then drinking tap water, rather than bottled, especially if you are concerned about your health!

You can buy well/spring water testing kits - tailored to the issues you feel are worth worrying about, e.g. pathogens, toxins, metals, hardness, etc.

Here's an example: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00513NHBA

No doubt there are kits from French vendors tailored to typical situations in French properties.