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Mark your calendars for Wed. April 22nd for the FREE 2020 Checkup
The US EPA and many groundwater conservation districts (including the District) recommend that private water well owners test their well water annually for contaminants that can jeopardize the health of users, especially vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.
As a service to our well owners, the District will host the annual Well Water Check-up on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. On the coordinated sample day, District well owners can bring in their own well water sample, and the District will screen it for common contaminants including fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates, and high salinity.
The screening is available for the first 50 District well owners to pre-register and pick up supplies.
2020 Well Water Checkup Timeline
Screening available to the first 50 well owners in the District to pre-register.
Wednesday, April 1:
Sign-up and sample supplies pickup begins at District office*.
Tuesday, April 21 – 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 starting at 5:00pm. Samples must be less than 24 hours old.*
Wednesday, April 22 – 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.
Email questions to: email@example.com.
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.
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.
Fall 2019 Neighborhood Site Visits Complete
This year’s Neighborhood Site Visit program is a collaboration between the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. Staff visited 46 wells in three areas: Falconwood/Summer Mt. Ranch/Hugo, Hilliard, and Saddleridge. Many thanks to all the well owners who participated in this program! Results and more about the Trinity Aquifer will be presented at a library near you in December.
Staff estimated levels with a hand-held sonic meter, and were able to verify the measurement with the eline at 38 of the 46 wells. In the coming weeks, the depth-to-water measurements will be converted to water-level elevations and compared them to readings from monitor wells. This Neighborhood Site Visit water level snapshot will help ensure that the monitoring network is representative of water levels in the neighborhoods and enhance that network where there are data gaps. These data will be useful as in tracking long-term water level changes due to drought and wet periods.
Staff used nitrate/nitrite test strips to screen for a surface water contaminant. High levels of nitrates can indicate contamination by fertilizer, septic systems, or livestock or wildlife feces and can endanger human health. Some of the water samples analyzed did contain detectable but low levels of nitrate or nitrite, but all were below the maximum concentration deemed acceptable for drinking water by the EPA. If you ever notice a change in color, taste, or smell, you should have your well water analyzed by an accredited lab.
Additionally, staff used a Horiba multiparameter probe to measure basic water-chemistry such as pH, conductivity, and total dissolved solids (TDS). Conductivity is a measure of how easily electricity can pass through a sample; the more dissolved particles in the water, the higher the conductivity. As water is stored underground, it dissolves particles from its host rocks. How long the water has been underground (its residence time) and how easily the host rock is dissolved (a product of the rocks’ chemical composition) influences the conductivity readings.
Many thanks to HTGCD and participating land owners for welcoming us out!
Weren’t able to participate this year?
- Attend an upcoming well owner information session at select local libraries: Details below and on Facebook
- View a copy of the results letters participating landowners received after site visits and map of sites here: Site Visit Results Letter & Map (PDF)
Join us for a presentation on Trinity groundwater, wells, and springs at your local library. We’ll give an overview of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County, present results from the Fall 2019 site visits, show how to access monitor site information, discuss well owner tips and tricks, and highlight Trinity springs.
- Wimberley Village Library: Lunch and Learn, Wed., Dec. 4, 12-1pm
- View the PowerPoint Presentation: 2019 Hays Trinity Aquifer Overview (PDF)
- Kyle Public Library: Tues., Dec. 10, 12-1pm in Meeting Room B
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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