Penn State Extension Water Testing Program
Posted: April 2, 2012
The results of previous testing show that about one of every three well owners will discover the presence of coliform bacteria in their well water. About one of every six wells will have nitrates above the limit for drinking water. Something can be done about these problems – IF you know you have them.
Two groups of tests will be provided. Group 1 provides the most essential tests and includes coliform bacteria, E. Coli, and nitrate. Penn State recommends running these tests annually. The price is $42. Group 2 is recommended for first time testing and every three years thereafter. It includes coliform bacteria, E. Coli, nitrate, lead, pH, and total dissolved solids. The price for this group is $74. The tests will be run in a lab certified by DEP.
Coliform bacteria indicate the potential presence of disease causing organisms. They originate from soil, sewage, or manure. The presence of E. Coli confirms an origin in sewage or manure. Nitrate is of concern when infants under six months drink the water. Nitrates enter the groundwater from heavily fertilized areas - home lawns, farm fields, or septic systems.
Lead at high levels in the blood affects nerves, kidneys, and the brain. Children absorb more of the lead in their diet than adults do. Lead in water comes primarily from solder joints in copper pipe. pH measures the acidity of the water and is a measure of the tendency of water to corrode plumbing. Total Dissolved Solids is useful for keeping track of the overall quality of the water. It is related to hardness, taste, and corrosion tendencies.
Test kits can be purchased at the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office from May 7 to May 11 between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The sample must be collected and returned on May 15 between 8:30 and Noon. There will be a follow up help session on Thursday, June 7, at 7:00 p.m. For more information contact the Extension office at 181 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Phone 263-9226. The office is located just off Route 30 on Franklin Farm Lane, about 0.2 miles east of I-81 exit 16.