The Texas Well Owner Network, TWON, will host “Well Informed” water well screenings in Llano, Lampasas and Goldthwaite on Dec. 11-14 to allow residents to have their well water screened for possible contaminants.
John Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist in Bryan-College Station, said the Texas Well Owner Network program is for Texas residents who depend on household wells for their water needs.
“The TWON program was established to help well owners become familiar with Texas groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance and construction, and water quality and treatment,” he said. “It allows them to learn more about how to improve and protect their community water resources.”
Samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen and salinity. The cost for the screening is $15 per sample.
Sampling and meeting information
— Llano County: Dec. 11, samples can be dropped off from 8-10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Llano County, 1447 E. State Highway 71, Unit E, in Llano.
The follow-up meeting to explain the results of the screenings will be on Dec. 12 from 6-7 p.m. at the St. James Lutheran Church, Schorlemmer Hall, 1401 Ford St., Llano.
— Mills County: Dec. 12, samples can be dropped off from 8:30-10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office, 1011 4th St., at the courthouse in Goldthwaite.
The follow-up meeting to explain the results of the screenings will be on Dec. 13 from 4-5 p.m. at the Mills County State Bank, 1103 Parker St., Community Room, Goldthwaite.
— Lampasas County: Dec. 13, samples can be dropped off from 8-10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Lampasas County, 409 S. Pecan St., Lampasas.
The follow-up meeting to explain the results of the screenings will be on Dec. 14 from 1-2 p.m. at the Grace Fellowship Church, 2974 U.S. Highway 281, Lampasas.
Smith said area residents wanting to have their well water screened should pick up a sample bag, bottle and instructions from their local AgriLife Extension office. Private water wells should be tested annually, he said.
“It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension offices be used, and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results,” he said.
Smith said it is essential for those submitting samples to be at the follow-up meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and improve their understanding of private well management.
Well water contaminants, concerns
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 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, he 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,” Smith said. “Infants less than 6 months of age are most susceptible to this.”
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 and using water with high levels for irrigation may damage soil or plants.
To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, go to twon.tamu.edu. For more information on the screenings, contact Smith at 979-204-0573 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Joel Pigg at 979-321-5946 or email@example.com.
The screenings are presented by AgriLife Extension and Texas Water Resources Institute, TWRI..
Funding for TWON is through a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) 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 Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.