Water well screenings offered for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey

Free screenings Feb. 6 for residents of Chambers, Hardin, Orange counties

Contact: Dr. Diane Boellstorff, 979-458-3562, Dboellstorff@tamu.edu
Dr. Drew Gholson, 979-8545-1461, dgholson@tamu.edu
John 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.

Areas of the state that experienced flooding during Hurricane Harvey need to monitor  private water wells. (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Steve Byrns)

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 bacteria 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, but must be able to return the sample to that office from 8-11 a.m. Feb. 6,” said Dr. Diane Boellstorff, AgriLife Extension water resource specialist, College Station.

Instructions are included with the kits and only one sample kit will be provided per household. There are a limited number of kits available at AgriLife Extension offices in Chambers, Hardin and Orange counties.

Samples will be processed at Texas A&M University in College Station. The results will be confidential and will be either emailed or mailed to residents’ homes.  

AgriLife Extension office addresses for sample kit pickup then collection on Feb. 6 are:

— Chambers County, 295 White Memorial Park Drive, Anahuac.

— Hardin County, 440 W. Monroe St., Kountze.

— Orange County, 11745 Farm-to-Market Road 1442, Orange.

Samples will be screened for common contaminants, including E. coli bacteria, nitrates and salinity.

Boellstorff said the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates waste from humans or warm-blooded animals may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with E. coli bacteria is also more likely to have pathogens that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other health issues. She also noted floodwaters may contain substances such as sewage from flooded septic systems or wastewater treatment plants or other contaminants.

“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 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.

To learn more about programs offered through the Texas Well Owner Network or to find additional publications and resources, go to http://twon.tamu.edu.

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