|This page has resources for our well owners.|
2019 Well Water Checkup Result Summary
This year, 47 well owners brought in water samples to be screened for bacteria, nitrate/nitrite, pH, and total dissolved solids (TDS) as part of the Well Water Checkup program (April 17, 2019).
Of the 47 well water samples, 20 tested positive for total coliform bacteria and 3 of those samples tested positive for fecal coliform (E. coli) bacteria. According to EPA drinking water standards, there should be no presence of any kind of bacteria. The presence of total coliform bacteria could indicate that the well water has a connection to surface contaminants or that there may have been sampling procedure error. The presence of E. coli bacteria can only come from fecal material, and therefore, strongly suggests that the well water has a connection to surface contaminants. E. coli bacteria poses a major health concern. Well owners with E. coli bacteria found should switch to drinking bottled or boiled water, investigate potential sources, and should re-test their well water. For more information on what to do about the presence of bacteria in well water click here.
Nitrate and nitrite are surface contaminants that could come from fertilizer, septic systems, or livestock or wildlife feces. Nitrate results ranged from 0 to 4 parts per million (ppm), but all were below the maximum concentration of 10 ppm deemed acceptable for drinking water by the EPA. Nitrite results ranged from 0 to 0.15 ppm and were all below the EPA standard of 1 ppm.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) in water is analogous to salinity. Edwards Aquifer wells traditionally have TDS values between 250-450 ppm; Trinity Aquifer wells have higher variability and generally range from 700-1600 ppm.
Results from this Well Water Checkup are a good estimate of general water quality in that well. If there is a change in color, taste, or smell, the well water should be analyzed by an accredited lab.
2019 Well Water Checkup Timeline
Screening available to the first 50 well owners in the District to pre-register.
Monday, March 18:
Sample bags available for pickup at District office*. Update: Pre-registration is currently filled for this year.
Tuesday, April 16 – After hours office drop-off begins after 5pm:
Last day to register and pick up supplies. After hours sample drop-off available at the District office after 5:00pm. Samples must be less than 24 hours old.*
Wednesday, April 17 – Well Water Checkup Day; Samples must be dropped off by 2pm:
Day to drop off samples, which must be less than 24 hours old. Well Water samples will be screened in-house for nitrate, pH, and salinity (TDS). Bacteria will be processed by an off-site lab. Preliminary results available after a short wait. Additional neighborhood sample dropoff sites are available this year, locations map HERE. (Coolers and signs will be posted at these additional sites.)
*District office is located near 1626 and Manchaca Road in far south Austin. Address is: BSEACD, 1124 Regal Row, Austin, Texas, 78748. Office hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm. After hours sample drop-off will be available after 5:00pm, Tuesday., Apr. 16 , 2019. Samples can be dropped off but must be less than 24 hours old and results will be mailed.
How To Take A Water Sample:
Why Test Well Water?
Private water wells should be tested annually for contaminants that can jeopardize the health of its users, especially vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.
What Contaminants Are Included in the Screening?
Samples from private water wells will be screened for common contaminants, including fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates, and high salinity. The costs for these screenings can range from $10-$50 per sample, but during the Well Water Checkup the BSEACD will cover the cost of analysis for private wells within its boundary.
- The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in water indicates that waste from humans or warm-blooded 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 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible.
- Salinity as measured by Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is also an important characteristic. 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.
The Well Owner Guide covers a wide variety of topics. Groundwater is a shared resource, and all well owners can do their part to help protect water quality and availability in the District. Download the guide today, or stop by the office for a hardcopy.
– District Overview
– Regional Aquifers
– Well Head Protection
– Well Construction
– Water Quality
– Well Maintenance
– Drought Impacts
– Water Conservation
– Aquifer Management
– Online Resources
Since 2003, well drillers have been required to submit well logs online; this makes them relatively easy to find through the Texas Water Development Board’ Water Data Interactive map. Prior to 2003, well drillers submitted hardcopy logs to TCEQ; many of these logs have been cataloged according to well grid and (if luck is on your side) can be found by searching pdfs available through TCEQ’s historic well log viewer. Here are some tips and tricks, depending on the date your well was drilled.
- Use Water Data Interactive’s address search and type in your address.
- Under the Groundwater tab, check the box for Well Reports (look for orange dots). Note: purple dots are wells that have either water level or water quality data.
- Use your mouse to click on an orange dot to open the popup window with well details.
- Select the hyperlinked Well Report Tracking Number to open a pdf version of the Submitted Well Driller’s Report.
- Use Hays CAD to find original owner & Section/lot number (this will be helpful because some scanned documents do not reference a street number)
- Open TCEQ’s historic well viewer and zoom into neighborhood of interest.
- Identify the grid number that corresponds to your location of interest. Note: before GPS was widely available, drillers used a statewide grid system to approximate locations for wells.
- Select Plotted Water Well Reports & fill in Grid Number and County (Ex.: 68-08-5, Hays)
- Open first pdf and scroll through visually searching for Owner, Address or Section/Lot of interest.
- If you find it, CELEBRATE!!!!!
- Print that 1 page (not the whole pdf).
There are a variety of local laboratories that can test residential well samples. If you missed the Water Well Check-up or would like to verify your results, you can contact a local lab to coordinate the analysis.
Local Water Quality Labs
Interpreting Your Results
Treating Your Water
Water level tracking is particularly important in Edwards and Trinity wells, because water levels fluctuate substantially during drought and wet periods. When home owners know the depth of their pump, a water level measurement can show how much water is above the level of the pump.
2019 Neighborhood Site Visits
The 2019 neighborhood site visit dates to be announced.
2018 Neighborhood Site Visits
The 2018 dates and areas included:
- May 15-16: Hugo Lane, Falconwood, Summer Mt. Ranch off Ranch Road 12
- May 22-23: Northern segment of Hilliard Road
As a pilot program, District staff scheduled several days for neighborhood site visits focused in two different areas. Site visits were free of charge. Staff took a water level measurement (if possible), measured basic water quality, and screened for fecal coliform bacteria. The site visits were similar to the screening provided through the annual Well Water Checkup with the addition of a water level measurement.