Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Water Testing in Pennsylvania Groundwater Contamination Water Test Kits

We have permitted the posting of a guest blog by the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians.   The  Carbon County Groundwater Guardians (CCGG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer, environmental education organization which provides homeowners with information on private wells, water quality and quantity, and septic systems. We are dedicated to protecting private well owners from illnesses caused by our drinking water. We advance good groundwater stewardship by raising awareness on a variety of groundwater issues that affects everyone with a private water supply.

We can help you get your water tested at the lab of your choice and explain the test results.   We recommend testing the water of every residential well on a regular basis. If the water was never tested, a comprehensive test should be done first. Based on the results of the test, follow-up testing should be done as needed. Testing for bacteria should be done at least once a year, but this is the minimum.

This testing is needed because your water quality can diminish due to changes in your water usage, in weather conditions, in your neighborhood etc. This is the reason why public water suppliers are required by law to constantly monitor the water they provide. If you notice any change in your water, it should be tested immediately.

For example, the state of Pennsylvania issues no standards for private well water quality. The only time the state gets involved is when there is pollution due to spills, leaking tanks or industrial activity that has been permitted by the agency.

If your well water contains bacteria, for example, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) will tell you to buy bottled water or give you a pamphlet, which explains how to shock chlorinate your well. That’s it. It’s up to you to fix any and all problems. Yes, you’re completely on your own.

In order to fix problems that could be threatening you or your family’s health, you first have to know a problem exists. How can you find out if your well water is safe? There is a very simple answer, and only one answer. Test your water.

If you have a private well, you’re an unregulated water company. If you also have a septic system, you’re an unregulated sewage company. It’s common for septic discharge to pollute the water in your and your neighbor’s well.

You don’t have to live next to a superfund site to have problems. Nature put many dangerous substances into the ground and we can add to it by what our neighbors and we do in our own backyards. A few facts about PA Groundwater and Private Wells:

1. About 30 to 50% of private wells have an elevated level of total coliform.
2. About 15 to 20% of private wells have e. coli.
3. About 6 to 8 % have elevated levels of arsenic.
4. About 20 to 30% have elevated levels of iron.
5. About 10 to 20 % have elevated levels of manganese.
6. Less than 5 % have elevated levels of chloride, barium, strontium, total dissolved solids, radiological issues, and/or methane (above 7 mg/L).
Source: Citizens Groundwater and Surfacewater Database (Oram, 2012)

A part of CCGG’s Mission is to offer advice to homeowners with a private well and septic system, and it’s free. The advice comes primarily from local Universities and Experts in Water Quality. Because of Natural Gas Development in Pennsylvania, it is critical to consider the need for water testing. Water testing can fall into three broad categories.

1. Informational Water Testing – This can be a screening test that is performed annually to check on the status of the system or if you suspect a problem. Typically, these informational water test programs use certified laboratory methods, but the results are not suitable for any legal action.

2. Certified Testing – this is testing where you may collect the sample and send it to a local certified testing laboratory. Because you are not an unbiased third-party sampler, this type of testing may not hold up in court, but this is a great screening test.

3. Baseline Water Testing – this is where third party unbiased professionals collect the water sample, conduct field testing, and deliver the sample to a certified testing laboratory. This has the highest level of protection and the data would be suitable for court. (Note- If you conduct baseline testing in PA, please support the Citizens Groundwater and Surfacewater Database- It is Free !)

We are in the process of working with a National Laboratory to offer informational water testing by mail as a screening test for our supports or local certified laboratories with trained samplers to offer third-party baseline testing in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Kansas, West Virginia, and Texas. If you are looking for testing, we would recommend that you contact us with your questions and type of assistance you need.

New Booklet on Water Quality in Pennsylvania (Proceeds from the Sale of this Book Support the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians)

After Getting the water tested, it is critical to identify and fix any problems.  Some can be easily fixed by changing the well cap, diverting surfacewater away from the water source, and other minor changes, but some may require more significant modifications to the well and/or long-term treatment.   It is our hope as the Carbon County Groundwater Guardian program grows in PA we will be able to assist well owners with fixing their water wells.  To learn more how you can help this Organization, please visit our webportal, Facebook,  Become a Partner, What Do Private Well Owners Need in PA (tell us) and our blog.

Notice - Offering a Free Educational Program in Luzerne County, PA (Learn More)

We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.
Everything we do began with an idea.
We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.
For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).