AgriLife water well education program scheduled for March 2

Chad Gulley

Water is an important and precious resource in Texas. Do you have a water well on your property? The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Smith County will be host to a water well educational program on March 2.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control, up to 30 percent of U.S. households depend on private wells for drinking water. Of the water used in Texas, roughly 60 percent is from groundwater, which is the water below the earth’s surface.

The program runs from 1 to 5 p.m. in Building C of the East Texas State Fair, 2112 W. Front St., Tyler. No fee will be charged; however, a $10 fee will be charged to analyze water well samples. To register for this workshop, go to http://twon.tamu.edu/training or call 979-845-1461.

The Texas Well Owner Network program is a free, educational training for Texas residents who depend on household wells for their water needs. This program is for private well owners who want to become familiar with groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance, water quality and water treatment.

Private well owners operate their own water systems, and they are responsible for ensuring that the water in their wells is safe.

Collection containers will be available at the Smith, Cherokee, Wood and Rains county Extension offices for those wishing to have their well water tested. Owners are asked to bring their samples to the training to be screened for nitrate-nitrogen, total dissolved solids and E. coli bacteria. A $10 fee will be charged to run each sample.

Each participant attending the program will receive copies of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service publications related to private wells and septic systems.

Record the location of all wells on your property, and keep a file on each well. Manage potential sources of contamination. Materials from many common facilities can contaminate a water well. Take steps to protect your well water from them. According to Texas law, the well-head must be at least:

- 50 feet from any septic tank, cistern, property boundary, and/or nonpotable well.

- 100 feet from your septic drainfield or any leach field.

- 150 feet from any feed storage area, pesticide or fertilizer storage area, or shelter or yard for pets or livestock.

- 250 feet from a manure stack or liquid waste disposal system.

Contaminants such as arsenic and radionuclides can occur naturally in wells. Well water can also be contaminated by environmental disturbances or human activities such as oil and gas exploration.

Have your well water tested for the contaminants that are most likely to be in it. At a minimum, have the water tested every year for nitrate, total dissolved solids and E. coli or fecal coliform (bacteria from human or animal waste). Also have the water tested whenever you suspect contamination; when you notice a change in the water’s color, taste, or odor; after the pump or well is maintained; and after anyone who drinks the well water experiences a suspicious illness.

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