Friday, November 18, 2022

Penn State Extension Report On Private Water Supply Education & Water Testing In 2022

By Danielle Rhea, Penn State Extension Educator

Over 430 private wells, springs, and cisterns were tested in 2022 as part of educational webinars helping private water supply owners identify and solve health-related drinking water problems.

For the second year in a row, Penn State Extension and the Penn State Master Well Owner Network provided educational webinars and accredited laboratory water testing to private water supply owners in 18 counties in Pennsylvania. 

This project was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), and the Pennsylvania Groundwater Association.

Webinars were offered to residents of Adams, Armstrong, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Clinton, Crawford, Erie, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Perry, Potter, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Warren, Wayne, and York Counties from January through June 2022. 

After attending a webinar, participants received a free water test from a PA DEP-accredited laboratory for bacteria, nitrate, manganese, lead, copper, arsenic, sodium, and barium. 

Initial webinars discussed water testing, water system inspection and maintenance, as well as water treatment options to solve water quality problems. 

Participants were also emailed a recorded presentation to help them interpret their water test results at their convenience. 

Monthly question and answer sessions were offered so that participants could ask Extension Educators questions about their water test results. 

For participants without internet access, phone call-in options were available as well as one-on-one assistance with interpretation.

This project tested 433 private water supplies within Pennsylvania. There were 240 health-based failures and 267 aesthetic failures across all water samples. 

Click Here for a table showing the percentage of water supplies that failed for each parameter that was tested as part of this project.  [39% failed sodium, 31% failed Total Coliform bacteria, 12% copper, 11% manganese, 5% E. coli bacteria, 3% lead, 3% arsenic, 1% nitrate, 0% barium]

In September, a follow-up evaluation was emailed to all participating households to determine how many had taken actions to improve the management of their water supply. 

Of these households, there were a total of 155 responses and only 28% indicated that water testing revealed a water quality concern. 

When asked if they had taken any actions after attending a webinar, 74% selected "yes." 

In addition to water testing, other actions participants took included talking to others about what they had learned (16%), visiting the Extension website to learn more (13%), learning about a health-related problem with their drinking water that they weren’t previously aware of (10%), establishing a 100 ft. water supply protection area (6%), improving their water system construction (5%), obtaining a copy of their well completion report (4%), shock chlorinating their well (4%), and installing water treatment (3%). 

Additionally, 89% of participants indicated that they were able to save money by participating in this program by having their water tested, improving their water supply construction to avoid installing continuous treatment, learning about appropriate water tests to reduce water testing costs, learning about water treatment to avoid unneeded treatment systems, or installing water-saving appliances.

Penn State Extension will continue to offer educational programs and water testing to residents that utilize private water supplies in selected counties. 

Sign Up For Notifications

To receive notifications of when water-related programs are offered in your county, sign up to receive emails and select "Drinking and Residential Water" as one of your areas of interest. 

Funding for this program was made available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health cooperative agreement with CDC Environmental Health Capacity building initiative (Grant #1NUE1EH001414-01-00) and support from the Master Well Owner Network grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Ground Water Association. 

(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy-- bottom of page.)

Upcoming Event:

-- Penn State Extension Hosts 9-Part Woods In Your Backyard Webinar Series Starting Jan. 11

Related Articles: 

-- Penn State Master Watershed Stewards Now Accepting Applications, Holding Info Sessions

-- Penn State Extension Hosts Nov. 29 Webinar On The Roadside Guide To Clean Water - Recognizing Efforts To Keep Your Community’s Water Clean  [PaEN]

-- Native Meadow Will Benefit Environment In New Caln Township Meadow Park In Chester County  [PaEN]

-- Master Watershed Stewards Help Purge Plastics On The Lower Susquehanna River  [PaEN]

[Posted: November 18, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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