Is your water safe?
By Lori Greiner
Virginia Tech’s recent discovery of abnormally high amounts of lead in Flint, Michigan’s, water system has made safe drinking water a hot topic. While the water in Flint came from a public source, private water supplies are not immune to this problem.
Testing conducted though Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Household Water Quality Program has found that 1 in 5 samples had high concentrations of lead that exceeded healthy levels. About 40 percent of the samples contained coliform bacteria and 10 percent contained E. coli.
“Our program works through local Extension offices to offer low-cost, confidential water testing for Virginia’s well and spring users. Since these are private water supplies, the owner is completely responsible for maintaining the quality of their drinking water,” said Erin Ling, a senior Extension associate in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. “In addition to learning about their water quality, we work to empower well owners with information about system care and maintenance and to address any problems.”
Since 1989 Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Household Water Quality Program has offered drinking water clinics and training to improve the water quality and health of Virginians with private water supplies such as wells, springs, and cisterns.
More than 50 clinics will be held across the commonwealth in 2016.
Clinics begin with a kickoff meeting that introduces the program and gives instructions for collecting the samples. After participants collect their water samples, the samples are taken to two labs at Virginia Tech to be tested. An interpretation meeting is held to review each participant’s results and discuss options for addressing maintenance or water quality problems. The cost for a sample kit is $52.
For more information, visit www.wellwater.bse.vt.edu.