Photo: Bryan Swistock, Penn State University
Screening water testing for Total Coliform and E. coli bacteria, pH, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), and Nitrate-Nitrogen are conducted on samples at the workshops. Chemical testing results are given to workshop participants during the workshops and discussed there. Bacterial results are emailed later because of time requirements of the test.
West Manheim Township in York County hosted a workshop in April, 2017. Twenty-nine participants attended the two-hour workshops, with samples from 21 households analyzed. A survey of the participants indicated that all of the participants learned some new information, with 50% indicating they learned a great deal of new information. Attendees (88%) indicated that they intended to take some action to improve their water or septic systems.
Only about 50 percent of the wells, springs, and cisterns in Pennsylvania have been properly tested by a state-certified testing laboratory. As a result, homeowners are often unaware of many water quality problems, such as coliform presence or elevated nitrates that may affect their health or the health of their families.
Penn State Extension recommends testing for total coliform and E. coli bacteria every 14 months (over 5 years homeowners have tested in both wet and dry seasons). Every third year, test for bacteria, plus pH and total dissolved solids and one other test that reflects land use around your home or some symptom you are seeing in your water. The fact sheet, Common Drinking Water Problems and Solutions will help you determine what symptoms your well might have.
Workshops are sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Groundwater Association.