Well owner network offers screening Nov. 5 in Mason

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

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

MASON — The Texas Well Owner Network invites Mason area residents to have their well water screened Nov. 5 in Mason.

The Texas Well Owner Network will present a well water screening opportunity Nov. 5 in Mason. (Texas Well Owner Network photo)

The screening will be from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office for Mason County, 505 Moody St. It is presented by AgriLife Extension and Texas Water Resources Institute in partnership with the AgriLife Extension office in Mason County.

A follow-up meeting explaining screening results and instructions on how to properly disinfect a well will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Richard P. Eckert Civic Center, 1024 McKinley Ave.

Private water well owners whose wells flooded from the recent rains should assume their well water is contaminated until tested, said Dr. Diane Boellstorff, AgriLife Extension water resource specialist, College Station.

“You should not use water from a flooded well for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing your teeth or even bathing until you are satisfied it is not contaminated,” Boellstorff said.

Boellstorff said flood water may 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.

John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, College Station, said area residents wanting to have their well water screened should pick up a sample bag, bottle and instructions from the AgriLife Extension office in Mason County. Bottles and bags will be available Nov. 2.

“It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office be used and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results,” Smith said.

The samples must be turned in by 10 a.m. on the day of the screening. The cost for each sample is $10.
Smith said private water wells should be tested annually. Samples will be screened for common contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen and salinity.

Research shows the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates that waste from humans or warm-blooded animals may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with E. coli is more likely to also have pathogens present that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other symptoms.

“And nitrate levels above 10 parts per million can disrupt the ability of blood to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia,” Smith said. “Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are among the most susceptible.”

Salinity as measured by total dissolved solids will also be determined for each sample, he said. Water with high levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste, and using water with high levels for irrigation may damage soil or plants.

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

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

He also said flooding can damage the well pump and electrical systems.

“If the pump and/or electrical system has been underwater and it is not designed to be under water, do not turn on the pump as there is a potential for electrical shock or damage to your well or pump.”

Once floodwaters have receded and pump and electrical system have dried, Gholson said a qualified electrician, well driller or pump installer should check the wiring system and other well components.

Instructions for decontaminating a well are available through the following publications free for download at http://twon.tamu.edu/fact-sheets: Decontaminating Flooded Water Wells and Shock Chlorination of Wells.

To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, please visit http://twon.tamu.edu.

Funding for the Texas Well Owner Network is through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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