The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Office will be holding its first drinking water clinic for well owners in Fairfax County as part of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program on October 16th 2017. You can register online at https://register.ext.vt.edu or contact: Lareka Washington or Adria Bordas in Fairfax county at 703-324-5369.
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 Pennino Building on October 18th , 2017 from 6:30AM—10:00AM ONLY.
The samples will be analyzed for 14 chemical and bacteriological contaminants and the cost $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 October 16th, 2017 at 7-8:30 PM at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office (Pennino Building) 12011 Government Center Parkway, 10th floor (Virginia Room) Fairfax, VA 22035. 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.
The samples should be taken early Wednesday morning and then dropped off on Wednesday October 18th , 2017, between 6:30 AM—10:00 AM ONLY at the Virginia Cooperative Extension (Pennino Building) 12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035.
Results Interpretation Meeting will be held on Nov. 15, 2017 from 7:00PM - 9:00PM once more at the Pennino Bldg. this time on the 2nd floor in room 206. 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.
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 Clinics from 2009-2015 testing in Virginia found that the most common Contaminants found were sodium, coiform bacteria, low pH, maganese and lead.
The presence of total coliform bacteria is an indication that surface water may be entering a well and that there may a pathway for other, more harmful microorganisms. E. coli was is an indication that human or animal waste is contaminating the groundwater. The most common sources of E. coli is a failing septic system or improperly manage manure from animal operations.