The Texas Well Owner Network is hosting several “Well Informed” water well screenings and “Well Educated” trainings in mid-June. These events will give residents of Wise, Jack, Montague, Parker, Hill, Ellis, Johnson and Somervell counties the opportunity to have their well water screened and learn more about keeping their wells in good working condition.
The screenings are presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Water Resources Institute, or TWRI, in partnership with the AgriLife Extension offices and groundwater conservation districts, GCDs, in those counites.
“Well Informed” events consist of a well water sample drop off, followed the next day by an hour-long event explaining the results of the screening. People interested in participating must attend both the sample drop-off and the informational meeting.
“Well Educated” events are primarily a four-hour educational event to learn about well water, well maintenance and other valuable well-related information. “Well Educated” participants may submit well water samples the day before, but it is not required.
Event details and logistics
Each screening drop-off event will be from 8:30-10 a.m. Dates and locations for the screenings, as well as dates, times and locations for follow-up meetings explaining the screening results and educational events are:
- Wise County — Sample drop-off on June 14 at the AgriLife Extension office for Wise County, 206 S. State St., Suite A, Decatur; or the Upper Trinity GCD office, 1859 W. Texas Highway 199, Springtown. The informational meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 15 at the Wise County Fairgrounds, Women’s Building, 3101 S. Farm-to-Market Road 51, Decatur. For more information, call AgriLife Extension at 940-627-3341 or Upper Trinity GCD at 817-523-5200.
- Jack County — Sample drop-off on June 15 at the AgriLife Extension office for Jack County, 100 N. Main St., Suite 109, Jacksboro; or the Upper Trinity GCD office, 1859 W. Texas Highway 199, Springtown. The informational meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 16 at the AgriLife Extension office in Jack County. For more information, call AgriLife Extension at 940-567-2132 or the Upper Trinity GCD at 817-523-5200.
- Montague County — Sample drop-off on June 16 at the Montague County Annex, 11339 Texas Highway 59 N., Montague; or the Upper Trinity GCD office, 1859 W. Texas Highway 199, Springtown. The informational meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 17 at the Montague County Annex. For more information, call AgriLife Extension at 940-894-2831 or the Upper Trinity GCD at 817-523-5200.
- Parker County— Optional sample drop-off on June 16 at the AgriLife Extension office for Parker County, 604 N. Main St., Suite 200, Weatherford. The four-hour educational meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. June 17 at the same location. For more information, call the AgriLife Extension office at 817-598-6168.
- Hill, Ellis, Johnson and Somervell counties — Optional sample drop-off on June 17 at the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office, 208 Kimberly Drive, Cleburne; the AgriLife Extension office for Hill County, 126 S. Covington St., Hillsboro, 254-582-4022; the AgriLife Extension office for Ellis County, 701 S. Interstate-35 E., Waxahachie, 972-825-5175; the AgriLife Extension office for Johnson County, 109 W. Chambers St., Cleburne, 817-556-6370; or the AgriLife Extension office for Somervell County, 1405 Texas Drive, Glen Rose, 254-897-2809. A four-hour educational meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. June 18 at the Prairielands GCD office. For more information, call the local AgriLife Extension office.
The importance of being well informed
John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Bryan-College Station, said area residents wanting to have their well water screened should pick up a sample bag, bottle and instructions from the AgriLife Extension office or groundwater conservation district office.
“It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office be used and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results,” Smith said.
The samples must be turned in by 10 a.m. on the indicated day. The cost for each sample is $10.
Smith said private water wells should be tested annually. Samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen and salinity.
Smith said research shows the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates that waste from humans or warm-blooded animals may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with E. coli is more likely to also have pathogens present that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other symptoms.
The presence of nitrate-nitrogen in well water is also a concern.
“Water with nitrate-nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption,” Smith said. “These nitrate levels above 10 parts per million can disrupt the ability of blood to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia. Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible.”
Salinity as measured by total dissolved solids will also be determined for each sample, he said. Water with high levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste. Using water with high levels for irrigation may damage soil or plants.
Smith said it is extremely important for those submitting samples to be at the respective follow-up meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and improve their understanding of private well management.
Well educated for water quality
More than a million private water wells in Texas provide water to citizens in rural areas and increasingly to those living on small acreages at the growing rural-urban interface. Private well owners are independently responsible for monitoring the quality of their wells.
“They are responsible for all aspects of ensuring their drinking water system is safe — testing, inspecting, maintaining it,” Joel Pigg, TWON coordinator, said. “This training will help private well owners to understand and care for their wells.”
To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, please visit http://twon.tamu.edu.
Funding for the Texas Well Owner Network is through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project is managed by TWRI, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.