Penn State Extension Assists 548 North Central Private Water Supply Owners
Posted: November 13, 2012
Penn State Extension worked with the Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Clearfield Conservation District to implement a Colcum Foundation Grant in eight counties in North Central Pennsylvania. The project was geared toward low to moderate income residents to assist them in obtaining pre-gas well drilling, chain of custody, water test reports. One hundred water tests were made available for each of the counties of McKean, Potter, Cameron, Elk, Jefferson, Clearfield, Centre and Clinton. Penn State Extension, specifically, Extension Educator, Jim Clark, and Extension Water Specialist, Bryan Swistock, provided a Water Test Interpretation Workshop in each of the eight counties after the water testing was completed by two PA Department of Environmental Protection accredited water labs. In addition, Clark and Swistock, assisted with one on one consultation for many of the water test recipients.
A total of 689 water tests were completed for homeowners. A total of 548 people attended one of the eight workshops and 346 (96%) of the workshop participants stated they felt they could now identify and understand the information on their water test report. A five month follow up survey of the participants was conducted and 155 (75%) of 206 respondents stated they had taken some action related to improving or protecting their private water supply.
Bacterial contamination is one of the major health issues related to private water supplies. The 689 water supplies showed positive numbers for coliform bacteria in 50% of the supplies and 19% for E. coli bacteria. There were 141 spring supplies tested in this project and the springs had the highest rate of bacterial contamination, as was expected, followed by hand dug wells, and finally drilled wells.
The following chart shows the median and maximum concentration for most of the 21 parameters tested:
Parameter Median Concentration Maximum Concentration
Alkalinity 39 mg/L 330 mg/L
Sulfate 11.9 mg/L 406 mg/L
pH 6.6 3.0 to 8.79
Chloride 4.4 mg/L 2,808 mg/L
Total Suspended Solids 0 mg/L 1,723 mg/L
Total Dissolved Solids 104 mg/L 5,168 mg/L
Barium 0.06 mg/L 20.8 mg/L
Methane 0 mg/L 35 mg/L
Ethane 0 mg/L 1.4 mg/L
Aluminum 0.01 mg/L 16.9 mg/L
Iron 0.05 mg/L 110 mg/L
Manganese 0.02 mg/L 9.87 mg/L
Hardness 53 mg/L 1,535 mg/L
Strontium 0.07 mg/L 95.6 mg/L
Bromide 0.05 mg/L 22.4 mg/L