HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Environmental Protection reminds homeowners with private water wells affected by flood waters to properly disinfect their wells prior to taking a water sample to test for contamination.
It is important for homeowners to test their private wells to ensure that the water is safe to drink and does not have any bacteriological contamination. Homeowners can pick up water sampling kits for free at DEP's North-central, Northeast, South-central and Southeast regional offices, all of which have extended weekend hours, and drop the samples off for testing to be done at no expense. Homeowners will be notified by phone if results are positive, and all water sampling result notifications will be mailed to homeowners.
The test kits come with a bacteriological sample bottle, sample submittal form, sampling procedure and well disinfection instructions. All steps should be followed thoroughly in order to ensure accurate testing and results.
"Water sampling is the only way to find out if your well has been contaminated," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. "DEP wants all people affected by the flooding to take the necessary and proper steps to protect their health and safety, and we are here to help them do that."
In order to properly test well water, the first step is to disinfect the well. The fact sheet, "Disinfection of Home Wells and Springs," is located on DEP's website under the Flood-related Information section. It outlines the procedure necessary to disinfect private water wells using common household items. Once homeowners follow the well disinfection procedure, they should wait two to five days before taking a sample of their water for analysis. Staff at DEP's regional offices are available to provide assistance and answer questions about the disinfection and sampling procedure.
If the water sampling results are positive for contamination, homeowners are asked to repeat disinfection and sampling until the sampling results are negative.
Until the water is tested and determined safe to drink, people should continue to use bottled water or bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Bottled or boiled water should be used for drinking, cooking, food preparation, dishwashing, making ice and coffee, mixing baby formula and brushing teeth.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set the maximum contaminant health goal for total coliforms to zero in their Total Coliform Rule, meaning the presence of any coliform bacteria in water suggests the presence of microbial contamination. Although many types of coliform bacteria are harmless, some can cause health problems, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting. Well water should have zero total coliforms for it to meet the acceptable drinking water standard.
If water sampling results continue to be positive for coliform bacteria after repeated disinfection and sampling, homeowners should have their well or spring further evaluated. Continued contamination may be caused by design or construction deficiencies, deferred maintenance or ongoing susceptibility to surface water contamination. Homeowners may need to consider modifications to their well or spring or install treatment for coliform bacteria.
If homeowners need to conduct additional testing for industrial chemicals, DEP regional offices can provide contact information for accredited labs in their region.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the Flood-related Information button. Addresses and phone numbers for your nearest DEP regional office can be found on the website's Regional Resources page.
Media Contact: Lisa Kasianowitz, 717-787-1323
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection