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Penn State Extension Educates Clarion County Residents on Managing Private Drinking Water

Saturday, July 13, 2019 @ 12:07 AM

Posted by exploreClarion

Clarion_071119-1CLARION, Pa. – Free water tests were provided to 40 households in Clarion County along with workshops educating residents about protecting, managing, and treating their water supplies.

Historically, Penn State Extension and the Master Well Owner Network have provided workshops and water testing across Pennsylvania to help homeowners understand their private drinking water supplies. In 2019, Clarion County was identified as an area of need due to the large number of private drinking water supplies and lack of recent water testing programs. Using a grant from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Penn State Extension provided free water testing to Clarion County residents followed by two drinking water workshops on July 11, 2019.

Over one million households in Pennsylvania get their drinking water from a private source and more than 10,000 of these homes are in Clarion County. In Pennsylvania, there are no statewide standards for locating, constructing, or maintaining private drinking water supplies, which means that residents receiving drinking water from these wells, springs, or cisterns are voluntarily responsible for their own water quality. Previous Penn State surveys have found that almost half of private drinking water sources have never been properly tested and nearly half of supplies that have been tested failed at least one safe drinking water standard. Many pollutants do not change the taste or appearance of the water and without routine water testing, residents have no way of knowing the quality or safety of their water.

Water tests for this program were valued at $135 per sample and analyzed for 13 drinking water parameters including bacteria, lead, and arsenic. Samples were tested prior to the workshop by the Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory. Overall, 70% of the water supplies failed at least one health-based drinking water standard. Forty-one residents attended the workshops where they learned about managing private water systems, received their water test results, and were assisted with interpreting their water test results. Presentations and water test interpretation was provided by Bryan Swistock, Water Resources Extension Associate, and Danielle Rhea, Extension Educator.

An evaluation of attendees showed that 100% learned new information with 89% of those indicating that they learned a great deal of new information about their private water system. Using the information gained from their water test and the workshop, 77% of attendees indicated that they planned on taking action to better manage their drinking water supply.

For more information on managing private drinking water supplies and upcoming workshops, visit the Penn State Extension Drinking and Residential Water website.

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