Water well screenings offered in January for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey

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COLLEGE STATION — The Texas Well Owner Network will present free water well screenings in January for Aransas, Calhoun, Jackson, Matagorda, Refugio, San Patricio and Victoria counties to give residents the opportunity to have their well water tested for contamination.

“Private water wells should be tested annually, and it’s particularly important to have water wells in this area tested since they may have been impacted by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey,” said Dr. Diane Boellstorff, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service water resource specialist, College Station.

Boellstorff said those wanting their well water tested should use kits containing sampling bags and bottles provided by their local AgriLife Extension office and closely follow instructions for proper sampling to ensure accurate results.

Dates, times and locations for the screenings and follow-up dates for explaining results will be:

o Jan. 29 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Aransas County, 892 Airport Road, Rockport. A follow-up meeting will be at the same location Jan. 29 at 6 p.m.

o Jan. 29 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for San Patricio County, 219 N Vineyard St., Sinton. A follow-up meeting will be Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Aransas County, 892 Airport Road, Rockport.

o Jan. 29 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Refugio County, 414 B N. Alamo St., Refugio. A follow-up meeting will be held Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Aransas County, 892 Airport Road, Rockport. Another follow-up will be held Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Calhoun County, 186 Henry Baber Way, Suite 1, Port Lavaca.

o Jan. 29 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Calhoun County, 186 Henry Baber Way, Suite 1, Port Lavaca. A follow-up meeting will be held at the same location Jan. 30 at 6 p.m.

o Jan. 30 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Jackson County, 411 N. Wells Suite 111, Edna. A follow-up meeting will be held Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Calhoun County, 186 Henry Barber Way, Suite 1, Port Lavaca. Another follow-up will be held Jan. 31 at 6 p.m, in the fourth floor conference room of the Matagorda County Building, 2200 7th St., Bay City.

o Jan. 30 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Matagorda County, 2200 7th St, Bay City. A follow-up meeting will be held Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. in the fourth floor conference room of the Matagorda County Building at the same address.

o Jan. 30 from 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Victoria County, 528 Waco Circle, Victoria. A follow-up meeting will be held at 6 p.m. the same day at the AgriLife Extension office for Calhoun County, 186 Henry Baber Way, Suite 1, Port Lavaca.

Samples will be screened for common contaminants, including E. coli bacteria, nitrates and salinity.

Boellstorff said the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates waste from humans or warm-blooded animals may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with E. coli bacteria is also more likely to have pathogens that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other health issues.

“Water with nitrate nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption,” said John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, College Station. “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. Infants less than six months of age, the elderly and young livestock are most susceptible.”

Salinity as measured by total dissolved solids will also be determined for each sample. Smith said water with high levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste, and using water with high levels of salinity for irrigation may damage soil or plants.

Boellstorff said it is important for those submitting samples to receive the results, learn corrective measures and improve their understanding of private well management.

During some of these dates, Daniel Alonso, San Antonio Bay Foundation executive director, and Michael Schamm, Lavaca Watershed coordinator, will discuss ongoing watershed programs and plans, including several best management practices to reduce pollution in the watershed and potentially lower the bacteria levels.

In Port Lavaca, Tammy Amaimo, Calhoun County Groundwater Conservation District general manager, will discuss that water district’s efforts. And in Bay City, Neal Hudgins, Coastal Bend Groundwater Conservation District and Coastal Plains Groundwater Conservation District general manager will discuss the efforts of both water districts.

For more information for the Aransas County screening, call 361-790-0103; Calhoun County, call 361-552-9747; Jackson County, 361-782-3312; Matagorda County, 979-245-4100; Refugio County, 361-526-2825; San Patricio County, 361-587-3400; and Victoria County, 361-575-4581.

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