Columbia County's cooperative extension office wants to tell people who use well water what tools are available to keep their water clean.
At 7 p.m. Monday, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office for Columbia County is holding a well and drinking water information session at the Appling Courthouse.
Though he could not give an exact number of homes in the county that use wells for drinking water, Billy Clayton, the county's water and sewer director, said about 2,000 homes are not served by county or municipal water.
Charles Phillips, the county's cooperative extension agent, and Paul Vendrell, from the Athens office, will lead the session and share with homeowners the dangers that can exist with wells and the importance of periodic water testing.
"One of the problems with shallow wells, anything less than 80 feet deep, is contamination from bacteria," Phillips said.
When conducting bacterial tests, labs search for the presence of choleriform bacteria, which originates in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, Clayton said.
"The reason why we look for that is because it is what's known as an indicator bacteria," he said.
"If it's present, then anything that could pass from one warm-blooded animal to another could also be present."
Clayton classified cases of choleriform bacteria as rare, but they do occur. The usual culprit is a leaking septic tank nearby, he said.
Testing for bacteria should be conducted once a year, as should testing for chemical, mineral and pH imbalances, Phillips said.
Common chemicals and minerals in Columbia County wells include hydrogen sulfide, which produces the rotten egg smell; hard water; and heavy concentrations of iron or copper, which can stain plumbing fixtures and clothing in the washing machine.
Water testing is available through the University of Georgia, the Columbia County Health Department and the Columbia County Water and Sewer Department.
Bacteria testing is available through the county water department for $30, and residents must pick up a sterilized collection bottle from the county before they can conduct the test.
Mineral, chemical and pH testing costs $10.
Phillips said homeowners with wells should also periodically check the seals on their well heads and holding tanks for leaks and corrosion.
They also should not store chemicals near the well heads, tanks or inside pump houses, because spills can seep into the well, posing a health risk.
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