This is an issue 1.7 million Virginians with private water supplies have to deal with. Sharon Beasley is one of many who is concerned with her home’s water quality.
Beasley, a Roanoke County resident, has been relying on water from a household well for years. With a husband and two children, she needs to ensure her family’s health and make sure her well water is not full of harmful contaminants. Fortunately for Beasley, she found out about a water quality clinic in her community.
“I thought it was too good to be true,” Beasley said. “For a reasonable cost, I was able to gain practical knowledge about my well system and have my water quality tested by a professional lab at Virginia Tech.”
The Virginia Household Water Quality Program conducted by Virginia Cooperative Extension works to improve the water quality and health of Virginians with private water supplies such as wells, springs, and cisterns. Drinking water clinics are held across the state to give people with private water systems access to affordable water testing, help interpret their test results, and provide the resources to address problems, if needed.
“Our goal is to provide Virginians reliant on wells and springs with objective information about their water quality and the care and maintenance of their water systems,” said Erin Ling, senior Extension associate in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering.
“We hope this will empower them to be better-informed consumers and better able to make good decisions when it comes to regular testing, water treatment, and system care, and ultimately, protect their health and property values.”
Clinics begin with a kickoff meeting that gives an introduction to household water system care. Key points are water quality risk factors and proper maintenance. Extension agents then train participants to collect their own water samples with provided testing kits.
“Each step in the process was thoroughly explained,” Beasley said. “There were also a lot of instructors on hand to answer questions and work with participants on an individual basis.”
After participants collect their water samples, the samples are taken to the Biological Systems Engineering Water Quality Lab at Virginia Tech to be tested. An interpretation meeting is held to review each participant’s results with them.
“I was fortunate and did not have any major issues with my water supply,” Beasley said. “I am, however, thankful for the information and the peace of mind I have gained from the program. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know my family is using clean water.”
Since 2008, Extension has conducted 63 drinking water clinics with participants from 81 Virginia counties and tested water samples for about 8,200 people. For more information, including upcoming clinics, visit the Virginia Household Water Quality Program website.