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Lessons on Protecting Your Drinking Water

Lessons on Protecting Your Drinking Water

For most of us who live in Pike County, the water we draw from our household faucets comes from wells or springs that produce water from natural geologic features called “aquifers.”  Aquifers are underground rock formations whose cracks and fissures hold water which can be extracted for human use.  For these groundwater resources to be preserved, well owners must take certain steps.

Groundwater is heavily influenced by what lies above it.  Gravity pulls everything down of course, and many of the materials we use on the land surface have the ability to infiltrate into our aquifers.  Water wells should be drilled uphill and generally 100 feet or more away from potential sources of contamination such as septic tanks, cesspools, animal enclosures, areas treated with pesticides and fertilizers, materials from auto repairs, and petroleum storage facilities.  Ideally, the well casing  should extend at least 12 inches above the ground and be covered with a “sanitary cap” which has a special seal to keep out insects, rodents, and other vermin.  Also, the well should not be placed in a flood-prone area.

You never want to store chemicals in your well house or anything else which might pollute the well, as they can leak and infiltrate into your aquifer. Sealing abandoned wells is also a great way to prevent pollutants from seeping into the aquifer. Keeping contaminants away from your source water is the key to maintaining healthy and inexpensive drinking water for you, your family, and your community.

It is recommended well water be tested routinely every few years but especially when there is a detectable change in color, taste, or smell.  The number of substances that can be found in water by a lab is practically limitless, but testing can be expensive so you should have a good idea of what the problem is before you send a sample to a lab.   It is the responsibility of the well owner/user to have their water supply tested, particularly for bacteria and nitrates.

Learn more about protecting the quality of your drinking water on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at the Dingman Township Building, 118 Fisher Lane, Milford, PA 18337. Peter Wulfhorst of the Penn State Extension office will discuss how to protect your drinking water and how to get your water tested. To register for the program please contact the Pike County Conservation District at 570-226-8220. Registration is free and open to the public. Water test kits will be made available to program participants for a fee through the Penn State Extension office.

Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.