Conservation Matters August 2015

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Private water well screening set for Sept. 9 in Hillsboro

Private water well screening set for Sept. 9 in Hillsboro

The Texas Well Owner Network is offering a water well screening 8:30 –10 a.m. Sept. 9 in Hillsboro to give area residents the opportunity to have their well water tested.

The screening will be held at the Hill County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office, in the Hill County Annex, 126 S. Covington St. in Hillsboro.

A meeting explaining screening results will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the annex. The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District will also discuss ongoing programs.

“Private water wells should be tested annually,” said John W. Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist.

The screening is presented by AgriLife Extension and the Texas Water Resources Institute, in partnership with the AgriLife Extension office in Hill County.

Smith said individuals submitting well water samples should use only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office in Hill County and should properly follow instructions to ensure accurate results. A $10 per sample fee will be collected when bags and bottles are picked up by participants.

The samples must be turned in by 10 a.m. on the day of the screening. Samples will be screened for common contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrates and high salinity.

Smith said 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.

“Water with nitrate nitrogen levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption,” Smith 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. Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible.”

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

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

For more information, contact the AgriLife Extension office in Hill County at 254.582.4022. To learn more about Texas Well Owner Network programs, publications and resources, visit

Support for the Texas Well Owner Network is provided through Clean Water Act nonpoint source funding from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the full AgriLife Today article.

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