Additional free testing available for private water well owners affected by Hurricane Harvey

Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contacts: Dr. Diane Boellstorff, 979-458-3562, dboellstorff@tamu.edu

Dr. Drew Gholson, 979-845-1461, dgholson@tamu.edu

John W. Smith, 979-845-2761, johnwsmith@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION — The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and others are collaborating to offer another set of water testing opportunities for private well owners in areas affected by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey.

Dr. Diane Boellstorff, AgriLife Extension water resource specialist, College Station, said water from a flooded well should not be used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth or even bathing until tested.

More well water testing opportunities will be provided in several counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. (Texas Well Owner Network photo)

AgriLife Extension’s Texas Well Owner Network is collaborating with Rebuild Texas, Virginia Tech and others to provide free water testing for total coliform and E. Coli in private water wells affected by flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

“Residents can pick up a free water sampling test kit from their local AgriLife Extension office or other designated location, but must be able to return the sample to their local office from 8-11 a.m. on the designated collection date,” Boellstorff said.

Instructions are included with the kits and only one sample kit will be provided per household. There are a limited number of kits, and they will be distributed as soon as possible through AgriLife Extension offices in the participating counties.

Samples will be processed at Texas A&M University in College Station. AgriLife Extension office addresses for pickup, kit availability and collection dates are:

— Aransas County, 892 Airport Road, Rockport. There will be 150 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 6.

— Chambers County, 295 White Memorial Park Drive, Anahuac. There will be 150 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 14.

— DeWitt County, 115 N. Gonzales, Suite E, Cuero. There will be 100 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 7

— Galveston County, 4102-B Main St., La Marque. There will be 150 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 2.

— Hardin County 440 W. Monroe St., Kuontze. There will be 75 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 9.

— Harris County, 9449 Grant Road, Houston, Oct. 24. There will be 200 sample kits available. Collection date Nov. 15.

— Jasper County, 271 E. Lamar, Suite 101, Jasper. There will be 50 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 9.

— Liberty County, 501 Palmer St, Liberty. There will be 75 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 14.

— Newton County, 509 N. Main St., Newton. There will be 75 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 9.

— Orange County, 11745a Farm-to-Market Road 1442, Orange. There will be 150 sample kits available. Collection date Nov. 9.

— San Jacinto County, 11 Carrier Ave, Shepherd. There will be 75 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 14.

— San Patricio County  219 N. Vineyard St, Sinton. There will be 50 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 7.

— Victoria County, 528 Waco Circle, Victoria. There will be 100 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 7.

— Walker County, 102 Tam Road, Suite B, Huntsville. There will be 75 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 6.

— Waller County, 846 6th St, Hempstead. There will be 75 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 6.

— Wharton County, 315 E. Milam St., Wharton. There will be 120 sample kits available. Collection date is Nov. 28.

Any homeowner with a private domestic water well in the flood-affected area is eligible to have well water tested. The results will be confidential and will be either emailed or mailed to residents’ homes.

Boellstorff, who is in Texas A&M University’s soil and crop sciences department, said floodwater might contain substances from upstream, such as manure, sewage from flooded septic systems or wastewater treatment plants or other contaminants. A septic system near a well also can cause contamination when the soil is flooded.

“Data from the well water testing will help us better understand a flood’s impact on private wells and help us enhance our communications relating to well water quality,” she said.

Instructions for decontaminating a well are available through the following publications free for download at http://twon.tamu.edu/fact-sheets/How to Disinfect a Private Well System  and Shock Chlorination of Wells.

Drew Gholson, AgriLife Extension program specialist and network coordinator, College Station, said wells should also be inspected for physical damage and signs of leakage after a flood.

“If it appears damaged, consult a licensed water well contractor to determine whether — and to what extent — repairs are needed,” Gholson said.

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