When was the last time your private water well was tested? Water is definitely our most precious natural resource. However, there are times when our water supply can be contaminated and those of us who rely on a private well must monitor against such contaminants.

It is recommended that private water wells be tested annually. The Somervell County Leadership Advisory Board and the Somervell County Extension Office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are sponsoring a water well screening day for area residents on Monday, Oct. 18. Well water samples must be received before 10 a.m. that day.

Samples from private water wells will be screened for possible contamination from common contaminants including fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates, and high salinity. The cost is $5 per sample.

The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in water indicates that feces (bodily waste from humans or animals) may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria is more likely to also have pathogens present that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other symptoms.

Water with nitrates at levels of 10 parts per million (ppm) is considered unsafe for human consumption. Nitrate levels above 10 ppm can disrupt the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia. Infants less than six months old and young livestock are most susceptible.

Salinity as measured by Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) will also be determined for each sample. Water with high TDS levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste. Additionally, using water with high TDS for irrigation may damage the soil or plants.

You will need to pick up a sample bag and instructions from the Somervell County AgriLife Extension Office. You can contact the Somervell County Extension Office by calling 897-2809 to receive an approved water sampling bag and instructions for taking your well water sample.

It is very important that only sampling bags from the Somervell County Extension Office be used and all instructions for proper sampling followed to ensure accurate results.

A meeting explaining screening results will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Somervell County Expo Center at 6:30 p.m. It is extremely important to be at this meeting to receive your results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and to improve your understanding of private well management.