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Greenwich Urges Residents To Test Well Water

GREENWICH, Conn. — Fees for well water tests have been cut in half through July as the Greenwich Department of Health works to entice residents to check their water quality.

“It’s a good idea to monitor your well water because wells can become contaminated,” said Douglas Serafin, laboratory director for the Greenwich Department of Health and Environmental Services. “If you find contamination, then you can correct it. Wells can be contaminated with bacteria through runoff or deterioration of the well, which can cause gastrointestinal problems. Overall, it’s a good idea to do a bacteria test, and it’s one included in our summer special.”

The department urges residents to test their well water at least once a year for those who use it as their primary source of drinking water. For $30, half the usual price, residents may pick up a well water testing kit at the department’s laboratory on the ground floor of Town Hall. The offer is supported by a state-funded grant.

As the groundwater is replenished by the slow migration of surface water through the soil, some environmental factors can lead to contamination. Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals can find their way into the groundwater supply along with unpurified water from on-site septic systems. Other naturally occurring pollutants can also introduce harmful bacteria into well water.

Water samples will be analyzed for coliform bacteria, pH, color, turbidity and odor. “Ph testing is useful to know because you can see how high the acid in the water is,” said Serafin. “If water is acidic, it can leak metal ions into the water. It’s a good indicator of the health of the water.”

Contaminants in water may lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, especially for infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people whose immune systems might be compromised.

“We actually started the program last Friday, and four people have come in so far,” Serafin said Monday. “People are starting to do it. We have some displays and signs up at Town Hall, and when they see those, people have decided they should be testing their wells.”

Here are steps homeowners can take to keep their well water supply safe:

• Keep all sources of pollution (septic systems; oil, gasoline and propane tanks; and garden supplies such as fertilizer and pesticides) at least 75 feet from the well.

• Make sure the top of a drilled well is sealed tight (with a state-approved sanitary seal) and maintained at least 6 inches above ground level.  This will prevent surface water from infiltrating into the well.

• Avoid over-using fertilizers, lawn treatments and pesticides. Excessive use might possibly lead to well water contamination.

• Test your well water for basic parameters, such as bacteria and simple chemical components, at least once a year to ensure its potability.

For further information about the special well water testing program, call the Department of Health laboratory at 203-622-7843.

Do you regularly test your well water? Do you think it’s safe to drink water out of the tap, or do you buy bottled water or use filtration systems? Comment below or send responses to ahelhoski@thedailygreenwich.com

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