Cecilia Rademan

Cecilia Rademan checks water from the faucet in her home on a farm in Osage County. 

KOELTZTOWN, Mo. — On a sunny and humid August day in the rolling hills of Osage County, Ken Rademan and his family stay hydrated with water from a private well.

“We drilled that well in 1981 when we started dairying,” he says.

Rademan’s farm, located near the small town of Koeltztown, relies on the water in the home, for the dairy operation, and for watering cattle since they switched to a rotational grazing beef cattle operation. He and his wife, Cecilia, raised their family on the farm.

“Our well system has been used extensively,” he says.

When Rademan had the well put in, he had it drilled 360 feet deep and the casing put in 100 feet deep to protect the water source.

“We wanted to get it deep because we wanted it to never run dry,” he says. “… That’s probably the single most important thing you can do, is get that casing down deep.”

There were certain requirements the well had to meet.

“That well, even back in 1981, had to meet some pretty strict requirements,” he says.

The well drillers took rock samples every 5 feet to determine soil type and other geological information.

And for many years while they used the water for the dairy, the milk inspector would come out regularly to sample the water.

In 2002, Rademan switched from dairying to beef cattle. He used a management intensive grazing system with paddocks, and the well provided the water to make that possible.

“There’s almost one mile of water line buried on this farm,” he says.

Rademan says he has to replace the water pump about every eight to 10 years.

“You plan for that,” he says.

There are many families in his area that rely on well water for the water in their homes, he says.

Jennifer Hoggatt, director of Missouri’s Water Resource Center, says private wells are especially common in southern Missouri.

“I’m from south Missouri, so to me it’s just second nature, you just dig a well next to your house and you drink it,” she says.

People with private wells can get their drinking water tested by the State Public Health Laboratory. There is usually a small fee, although this year, with all the flooding around Missouri, the state waived the fee so people can see if their water supply was affected. People can get the test kits from their county public health offices, drop it off, and the office will send them to the state lab.

A water test at the state lab showed Rademan’s water had no coliform bacteria or E. coli, meaning it is safe to drink.

“There’s some peace of mind in seeing the test results,” Rademan says. “We went through the expense to make sure the well casing was properly installed and to the proper depth. That was 38 years ago and today we are still enjoying good, clean water.”

Rademan says the family farm needed a reliable water source, and the well has provided it.

“We had to have a good well,” he says. “We have had a good well.”

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.