Testing well water might not be something that people do regularly, but they should, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, or VCE. So the extension is offering people who have wells the opportunity to find out what is in their well water as part of the Prince William Drinking Water Clinic.
For $55, people can have their well water tested for iron, manganese, nitrate, lead, arsenic, fluoride, sulfate, pH, total dissolved solids, hardness, sodium, copper, total coliform bacteria and E. Coli bacteria through the Virginia Household Water Quality Program.
Extension Agent Paige Thacker said having well water tested is usually a more expensive proposition. "We take the samples down to Virginia Tech and they process them in their lab. If you were to have a private company do it, they're anywhere from $250 to $300 or even more."
The Prince William Drinking Water Clinic, will run in three parts.
The kick-off session is on Monday, March 26, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Board Chambers of the McCoart Government Center, at 1 County Complex Court in Woodbridge. During this session, people will learn about drinking water concerns in the area and the testing kits will be distributed.
People should then drop off their samples on Wednesday, March 28, from 6:30-10 a.m. only, at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office at 8033 Ashton Ave. in Manassas.
The results interpretation meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, May 9, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the McCoart Government Center, is where people from VCE will explain the report and answer questions on dealing with water problems.
Elizabeth Ward, a master well volunteer, will be at the results and information meeting to help people learn how they might remedy problems that have come up with their well, Thacker said.
To register for the class, or to ask questions, please call 703-792-774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are roughly 16,000 wells in Prince William County, according to the Prince William County Health Department. Thacker said it's important that people check the quality of their well water regularly to detect for contaminants. "Ground water changes seasonally, and things people do up stream can affect the quality of the ground water feeding a well. Wildlife, pets, fertilizers and pesticides can also affect well water quality. A septic system failing can get into the ground water."
Thacker said that in every year the extension has tested well water, since about 2010, they have found wells with problems. "We've had about 300 people go through the program, and every year, we found someone with significant problems, lead, coliform, or E. Coli."
Water that comes from public sources is checked regularly. It's left up to people who use wells to check for themselves, Thacker said. "People who live with wells don't have anyone checking out their water, so if development occurs, or something changes the flow of water to your well, it can affect the quantity and the quality of their water."