Coming in May: water program, testing

If the water doesn’t look funny, taste off, or smell bad, it’s still a good idea to test it.

“Everybody should test their water periodically,” Conewango Creek Watershed Association Chairperson Elizabeth Dropp said. “If people don’t notice anything about their water, they think it’s fine.”

“The kinds of things people notice — color, taste, smell — are typically not health-related,” Dropp said. “The things that do typically create health risks are (generally) not detectable by smell, taste, or color.”

The association is participating in a free program to provide information and testing to Warren County residents who have private drinking water sources — wells, cisterns, and springs — at their primary residences.

“Conewango Creek Watershed Association is promoting free drinking water testing for Warren County residents,” Dropp said.

“Over one million homes and farms in Pennsylvania get their drinking water from a private well or spring. Private Water Supply Education and Water Testing in Warren County is designed for people who manage one of these private drinking water supplies.”

“Across the state, 40 percent of private drinking water tests that are made don’t meet some standard,” she said.

It’s not always something dangerous — but the standards relate to the health of water systems and the health of those who use them.

“We’ll cover how to test and protect your well or spring, and when water treatment might make sense,” Dropp said. “We will also discuss well and spring system inspection and maintenance so you know how to protect your family, your property, and the groundwater we share.”

“It’s up to the individual to protect their own water supply,” she said. “This is a good start.”

The tests will analyze water for the following: bacteria, nitrate, manganese, arsenic, sodium, barium, lead, and copper. “Many of these are health-related parameters that can only be detected through water testing,” Dropp said.

The free testing will help residents and it will also help create a pool of data related to the county’s water.

“Of all the counties in Pennsylvania, Warren is one of the counties with the lowest rates of testing,” Dropp said. “We don’t have enough data.”

“The state keeps records — anonymously,” she said. “Penn State will end up with the data. They have an analytics lab. They do all kinds of testing.”

The university also has a master well owner network able to talk about the importance of testing.

The online program will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, May 9.

County residents who attend are eligible for free sample bottles and to have those samples tested at no cost. Further information will be provided to those who attend.

All testing is handled by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection-accredited laboratories.

Free testing is limited to one per household.

Funding for the program is provided by a Pennsylvania Department of Health cooperative agreement with CDC Environmental Health Capacity building initiative, the Master Well Owner Network grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Pennsylvania Ground Water Association.

Testing of roadside springs is not included in this program — the intended targets are on-site water supplies. “They want to put the focus on residences,” Dropp said.

She said roadside springs have been tested by the state and as many as 60 percent of those springs have failed bacteria tests.

Those who would like to attend the program or are interested in more information may visit www.conewangocreek.org and click on the link for the water quality test. A registration link can be found at the bottom of that page.


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