Monday, March 6, 2017

Prince William County 2017 Well Water Clinic

It is time to think about your well. As a private well owner it is your responsibility to maintain your well. Each year you should visually inspect your wellhead. Check the condition of the well casing, well cap to make sure they are in good condition and there are no cracks or other points of entry for pollutants. A sanitary sealed well is your first line of protection. You should also test your water each year.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Office will be holding its annual drinking water clinic for well owners in Prince William and Loudoun Counties as part of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program. To sign up for the program and order your test kit please call 703-792-7747 or email Please register as soon as possible so that the Prince William VCE can order enough test kits.

The program consists of two meetings- one to get instructions, learn about the local geology and wells, and pick up test kits, and the other a month later to get results and provide interpretation and recommendations. Samples will need to be dropped off at the VCE Prince William Office for analysis a day and a half after the first meeting. The samples will be analyzed for 14 chemical and bacteriological contaminants and the cost this year is only $55. Comparable analysis at a private commercial lab would cost $150-$200. Samples will be analyzed for: iron, manganese, nitrate, lead, arsenic, fluoride, sulfate, pH, total dissolved solids, hardness, sodium, copper, total coliform bacteria and E. Coli bacteria.

The Kickoff Meeting will be on March 27, 2017 at 7 - 8:30 pm in the Board Chamber in the McCoart Building, 1 County Complex, Woodbidge, VA 22192
A brief presentation will be given to discuss common water quality issues in your area and instructions for how to properly collect the water samples from your tap. Water sampling kits will be distributed with written sampling directions and a short survey about your water supply for data gathering purposes. Checks (or money orders) for $55 to cover the cost for the analysis and sampling kits will be collected. A friend or neighbor may drop off your check and pick up your sampling kit.

The samples should be taken early Wednesday morning and then dropped off on Wednesday March 29, 2017, between 6:30am and 10am at the VCE Prince William Office, at 8033 Ashton, Suite 105, Manassas 20109

Results Interpretation Meeting will be held on May 8, 2017 at 7 pm once more at the Board Chamber in the McCoart Building, 1 County Complex, Woodbidge, VA 22192. 
Participants will receive their confidential water test results. A presentation will be given that explains what the numbers on the test report mean and what possible options participants may consider to deal with water problems. Experts will be on hand to answer any specific questions you may have about your water and water system. I will be one of volunteers present to help with the program. Come join us.

Just because your water appears clear doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to drink. All drinking water wells should be tested at least annually for at least Coliform bacteria and E Coli. Testing is the only way to detect contamination in your water. Testing is not mandatory, but should be done to ensure your family’s safety. Maintenance and ensuring that water is safe to drink is the responsibility of the owner. If there is a pregnant woman or infant in the home the water should be tested. If there is any change in the taste, appearance, odor of water or your system is serviced or repaired then water should be tested to confirm that no contaminants were introduced.

Most of the water quality issues with private wells are from naturally occurring contamination or impurities. While many natural contaminants such as iron, sulfate, and manganese are not considered serious health hazards, they can give drinking water an unpleasant taste, odor, or color and be annoying and persistent problems and EPA has established secondary standards that can be used as guidance. Excessive levels of sodium, total dissolved solids, harness, can be an annoyance and impact appliances. Several of the naturally occurring contaminants that commonly appear in well water are primary contaminants under the Safe Drinking Water Act and can be a health hazard- nitrate, lead, arsenic, floride, and copper. The VCE Drinking Water Clinic will test for these.

In addition running the drinking water clinics VCE has established the Virginia Master Well Owner Network (VAMWON), a group of Virginia Cooperative Extension educator/agents and screened volunteers trained in proper well construction and location, appropriate maintenance and protection of wells and springs, interpretation of water tests, and water treatment options. I am one of the volunteers and would be happy to answer any of your questions or meet my neighbors.

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