Community Water Center

Community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy

Private Well Testing

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Community Water Center completed its private well testing program in May 2016. This program provided free water quality testing to private well owners in Tulare, Fresno, and Kern counties. The goal of the program was to provide residents with an understanding of their water quality and resources related to accessing safe drinking water. Our team sampled 32 private wells to analyze water quality. We also provided educational materials about the test results and resources about how to obtain safe drinking water (link to water quality results).
Wells were tested for seven priority contaminants:
  • Total coliform bacteria
  • E. coli
  • Nitrate
  • Dibromochloropropane (DBCP)
  • 1,2,3, Trichloropropane (TCP)
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • Arsenic
  • Uranium
Process:  
  1. CWC staff collected samples using a uniform structure after completing  a training and certification course through BSK Labs in Fresno. We informed private well owners  of the possible contaminants that would be tested for in their water as well as the program’s broader goals of ensuring residents have access to safe, affordable water. After conducting rounds of outreach, interested private well owners  were  scheduled in a sampling schedule.

  2. CWC employees collected water samples using the HI-991300 pH/conductivity tester for well purging protocol so that samples were drawn from groundwater sources rather than storage tanks. Samples were taken toBC Laboratories in Bakersfield, CA.

  3. Once we received the laboratory results, follow-up packets were customized for each participant based on their water quality results. Contaminant fact sheets, a letter of results, drought resource sheets, and other educational materials were tailored for each home in English and Spanish. In addition to materials about contaminants, certified water filters, and bottled water options, we also provided information to residents about drought resources, our work toward regional long-term water solutions, and other resources related to accessing safe drinking water. A follow-up visit was scheduled for each resident where CWC staff communicated the results and discussed next steps.

  4. Data collected through this program was uploaded to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) GeoTracker Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Unit (GAMA) online database. Data uploaded to Geotracker GAMA is publicly accessible.

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Many wells that were tested exceeded the legal limit for at least one contaminant (see below for actual results). Multiple wells exceeded maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for Nitrate and bacteria, and many exceeded public health goals for 1,2,3-TCP, Hexavalent Chromium, Arsenic, and Uranium.
While our testing revealed unfortunate results of disproportionate water contamination in Central Valley private wells, there were many positive outcomes of the project. Most importantly, residents learned about their water quality and are now able to make decisions about their water needs. Furthermore, the data collected can serve as an example and resource for other organizations.
Additional Resources:
 

 

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