If you live outside the city limits and have a private water well, how do you know what you are drinking is safe?
Safety standards are tested and maintained by certified, trained personnel if you live in the city limits.
Who is responsible for the quality of the water you are drinking from a private water well?
The short answer is you.
Many folks have private water well sources and haven’t ever checked for water quality. The assumption becomes, the well was drilled into a pool of clear, clean, good-quality water. In most cases, this statement is true. However, many things can contaminate drinking water.
The Texas Well Owner Network is hosting a water well screening May 13 in Victoria to give area residents the opportunity to have their well water screened. The screening will be from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office – Victoria County, 528 Waco Circle at the Victoria Regional Airport.
A meeting explaining screening results will be at 1:30 p.m. May 14 at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive in Victoria at the Victoria County Regional Airport.
The screening is presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Healthy Texas and Texas Water Resources Institute, in partnership with the AgriLife Extension office in Victoria County. Healthy Texas is an initiative of AgriLife Extension and the Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, College Station, said, “Area residents wanting to have their well water screened should pick up a sample bag, bottle and instructions from the AgriLife Extension office in Victoria County. It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office be used and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results.”
The samples must be turned in by 10 a.m. on the day of the screening. The cost for each sample is $10.
Smith said private water wells should be tested annually. Samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen, arsenic and salinity. Research shows the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates that waste from humans or warm-blooded animals may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with E. coli is more likely to also have pathogens present that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other symptoms. Water with nitrate-nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption. These nitrate levels above 10 parts per million can disrupt the ability of blood to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia. Infants younger than 6 months and young livestock are most susceptible.
Salinity as measured by total dissolved solids will also be determined for each sample, he said. Water with high levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste, and using water with high levels for irrigation may damage soil or plants. Long-term consumption of arsenic in water, Smith said, increases the risk of skin cancer and cancer in the liver, bladder and lungs. In addition, chronic exposure to arsenic may lead to gastrointestinal irritation and cardiovascular disease.
Smith said it is extremely important for those submitting samples to be at the May 14 meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and improve their understanding of private well management.
Michael Schramm, TWRI research associate and Arenosa and Garcitas creeks watershed coordinator, will discuss updates on watershed protection plan activities to improve and protect water quality in Arenosa and Garcitas creeks.
Tim Andruss, Victoria County Groundwater Conservation District general manager, will discuss the district and its purpose.
For more information, call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office in Victoria County at 361-575-4581.
To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, please visit twon.tamu.edu.
Funding for the Texas Well Owner Network is through a state nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. The project is managed by TWRI.