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Posted on: November 9, 2022

Lee County Texas Well Owners Program

Private water well screening set for November 28 in Giddings

Test results meeting on November 29

The Texas Well Owner Network is hosting a “Well Educated” water well screening November 28 in Giddings to give area residents the opportunity to have their well water screened.

Joel Pigg, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist and TWON coordinator, College Station, said the TWON program is for Texas residents who depend on household wells for their water needs.

“The program was established to help well owners become familiar with Texas groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance and construction, and water quality and treatment,” he said. “It allows them to learn more about how to improve and protect their community water resources.”

Water samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen, arsenic and salinity.

Water samples can be dropped off from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office for Lee County, 310 S. Grimes Street, Giddings. There will be no cost associated with this program as the Lost Pines GCD has committed to covering the water sample fees.

The follow-up meeting to explain the results of the screenings will be at 3:30 p.m. November 29 at the Lincoln Community Hall, 1066 Main Street, Lincoln.

Sampling instructions

Joel Pigg, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Bryan-College Station, said area residents wanting to have their well water screened should pick up sample bags, bottle and instructions from the AgriLife Extension office.

“It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office be used and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results,” Pigg said.

Private water wells should be tested annually, he said. The samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen, arsenic and salinity.

Pigg said it is extremely important for those submitting samples to be at the November 29 meeting in order to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and improve their understanding of private well management.

Well water contaminants, concerns

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

The presence of nitrate-nitrogen in well water is also a concern, and water with nitrate-nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption, he said.

“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,” Pigg said. “Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible to this.”

Long-term consumption of arsenic in water, Pigg said, increases the risk of skin cancer and cancer in the liver, bladder and lungs. In addition, chronic exposure to arsenic may lead to gastrointestinal irritation and cardiovascular disease. 

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

To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, visit http://twon.tamu.edu. For more information, contact the AgriLife Extension office in Lee County at 979-542-2753 or the Lost Pines GCD at 512-360-5088.

Funding for the Texas Well Owner Network is through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project is managed by TWRI, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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