If you are one of the estimated 3 million Pennsylvanians who rely on a private well, spring, or cistern for your tap water, there is a chance that your drinking water may contain some form of contamination, says a water resource specialist in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
“Approximately 40 percent of all private well water supplies in the state fail to meet at least one safe drinking water standard,” says Bryan Swistock, a water resources specialist at Penn State. “There are about one million private water supplies in Pennsylvania, mostly springs and wells fed by groundwater.
Because private water systems are largely unregulated, water quality problems are all too common.”
To address these problems, Penn State Extension will present a Safe Drinking Water Webinar, in Spanish, on February 16th from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. using Zoom. The aim is to provide Spanish speaking residents with the information they need to maintain a safe water supply.
“Residents who receive water from a public water company or authority can be confident that their water meets drinking water safety standards when it leaves the treatment plant,” Swistock says. “But if you own a private well or spring, all management and testing is voluntary.”
Common problems in private water supplies include bacterial contamination, sediment, lead, nitrate, iron, and corrosivity.
Residents attending the clinic can learn how to avoid, detect, and treat the contaminants they are likely to find in their water. “In the webinar, we’ll cover drinking water standards, proper well construction, land-use activities associated with individual pollutants, water testing, and water treatment,” says Swistock.
Swistock recommends that private well owners have a certified laboratory test their water for bacteria annually and for other chemicals at least every three years. “By knowing what your problems are, you often can save money on appropriate corrective measures and potentially prevent health problems,” he says.
The clinic is free to attend but registration is required by Feb 15, 2021. To register, visit