Penn State Extension Assists North Central Private Water Supply Owners
Posted: November 19, 2012
Penn State Extension Water Specialist, Bryan Swistock, speaks to 116 people on water test report interpretation at the Royal Inn in Ridgway, PA.
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
It is important to remember that these water samples were of the raw water and not necessarily the water at the faucet. Many of these private water systems, with contamination issues, may already be treating their drinking water with appropriate home water treatment devices. Additional information related to this project can be obtained from Jim Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.