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Residents get their private water tested

Posted: November 2, 2012

A locally held drinking water testing clinic helps private water system owners (wells, springs, cisterns) better understand their water supply.

Fifty-six homeowners brought in water samples for analysis at the semi-annual Drinking Water Testing Clinic this past March. The results were fairly typical, says Dana Rizzo, Extension educator for water resources. "About 35 percent tested positive for total coliform bacteria." Which, she added, indicates either a short-or long-term problem. "We normally advise people with coliform in wells to pursue additional testing for an exact count, because no one should have bacteria in a well," she says. "It could be a minor contamination from a small animal or insect getting into the well head—easily cured by shocking the well with chlorine, or indicative of a chronic issue such as run-off from a dog kennel or pasture, which will take more effort to rectify."

 

Other tests are conducted for iron, total dissolved solids, nitrate, hardness, E. coli, and pH. Three of the water samples tested positive for E. coli, which definitely requires    further testing, she said. The other measures are mostly cosmetic, depending on one's preference for hard or soft water. However, if a homeowner's water is too acidic, copper—and possibly lead from soldered pipes—could leach into tap water and cause problems, she says.

 

Other tests are conducted for iron, total dissolved solids, nitrate, hardness, E. coli, and pH. Three of the water samples tested positive for E. coli, which definitely requires    further testing, she said. The other measures are mostly cosmetic, depending on one's preference for hard or soft water. However, if a homeowner's water is too acidic, copper—and possibly lead from soldered pipes—could leach into tap water and cause problems, she says.

 

Assisting Dana was Bryan Swistock, state Extension Specialist of water sources from Penn State, and Brian Beskitt of the Municipal Authority of Pennsylvania. Partial funding was provided by the Master Well Owner grant from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.