Northampton Residents Learn About Drinking Water and Septic Management

Users of these rural drinking water and wastewater systems are in need of educational resources because their management in Pennsylvania is the voluntary responsibility of each homeowner.
Northampton Residents Learn About Drinking Water and Septic Management - News


Northampton water workshop Photo: Peter Wulfhorst

For many years, Penn State Extension has delivered Home Water and Septic Workshops to educate rural homeowners and farmers about proper water supply and wastewater system location, construction, testing and management. These workshops are presented in partnership with the Penn State Master Well Owner Network – a group of over 800 trained volunteers across the state dedicated to educating others about proper management of drinking water supplies.

Utilizing a grant for the Master Well Owner Network from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Penn State Extension provided two Home Water and Septic Workshops on March 14, 2018 in Nazareth, PA in a county where over 15,000 homes rely on private drinking water wells and springs. The presenters were Peter Wulfhorst, a water resources educator from Penn State Extension in Pike County, Chris Schlegel, a master well owner volunteer from Pike County, and Bryan Swistock, a water resources extension associate with Penn State.

Sixty homeowners attended one of the two workshops with 42 providing water samples for free on-site analysis for pH, total dissolved solids, nitrate, coliform bacteria, and E. coli bacteria. Overall, 26% of the water supplies failed at least one health-based drinking water standard while 38% failed at least one aesthetic drinking water standard. Homeowners received education on how to solve existing water quality problems along with common approaches to fix failing on-lot septic systems.

An evaluation of attendees found that 100% felt that they had learned new information and 67% felt they learned a great deal of new information about their drinking water and wastewater. More importantly, 77% of attendees planned on using information they learned at the workshop to take actions to better manage their drinking water supply and/or septic system such as moving sources of pollution, pumping septic tank, fixing the construction of their well, or installing a water treatment device.

Similar workshops for water well and septic system owners will be provided across Pennsylvania in the coming months. To learn more about upcoming workshop and the proper management of private water wells, springs, cisterns and septic systems, visit the Penn State Extension Drinking Water website