Friday, May 5, 2006
BOH offers water testing
Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) Agent Linda Fantasia keeps a close eye on the quality of the drinking water in her family's home. When it was recommended that she install a sediment filter on the water line, she did so, and changed the filter regularly. When the BOH first offered residential well testing in 2002, her home was first on the list. When the lab called with the results less than two days later, she practically hit the ceiling.
"Coliform bacteria?" said Fantasia incredulously. "What a surprise that was." She learned that the problem was caused by the sediment filter, which is prone to bacteria buildup. This, along with the high levels of iron and manganese that were found to be in her home's well water, was enough to convince her to install a filtration system — and to have her water tested every year.
The BOH recommends testing well water every few years. This spring the BOH is organizing a voluntary water testing program where they handle most of the paperwork and homeowners get a break on the cost.
The testing will be conducted by Spectrum Analytical Laboratories on Saturday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. One must sign up and pay the testing fee by May 12. The BOH can assist homeowners in choosing the appropriate tests for their well. On the day of testing, someone must be at home to meet the technician who will be collecting the water sample.
Fantasia explains that private well water quality is not monitored by the state and is subject to limited regulations by the town (BOH regulations can be viewed at www.carlisle.org). Typically, local regulations deal with new well construction or when a property is sold. A copy of the water analysis must be provided to a potential homebuyer prior to signing the purchase and sale agreement. Other than that, private well owners are responsible for maintaining and monitoring their own wells to ensure the safety and quality of their drinking water. And since all Carlisle homeowners are well owners, they do not benefit from the protection provided by public water systems which are subject to numerous federal and state regulations.
Fantasia says that, for private wells, the state recommends the basic water quality test for drinking water, or potability scan, about every three years. The state also recommends that well owners test for coliform bacteria every year. Spectrum's potability scan includes a test for coliform in addition to nitrite and nitrate, all of which can indicate septic contamination. For further information, see the press release on page 21, call the BOH (1-978-369-0283) or go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website: www.epa.gov/safewater/privatewells/health.htm.
© 2006 The