Community Water Center

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

Private Well Testing

Screen_Shot_2016-08-22_at_11.18.45_AM.png
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.

    Screen_Shot_2016-08-22_at_11.19.00_AM.png
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:
 

 

Related News & Resources

Nitrates Poison Water in California's Central Valley

By AFP September 19, 2016 Original Story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3797712/Nitrates-poison-water-Californias-Central-Valley.html In California's Central Valley, where verdant fields of fruit and vegetables unfurl under sunny skies, the water that feeds them -- and flows...

Pilot Program Provides Insight into Private Well Water Quality

By Vanessa Martinez  Community Water Center recently completed a year-long pilot private well testing project in May. This free water testing program was designed to inform local residents of their...

Unknown, Unregulated, Undrinkable

By Madeline Thomas May 5, 2016 Original Story: https://psmag.com/unknown-unregulated-undrinkable-b335823f895#.48eb3frak   Louie Campos stopped drinking the water from his faucets in Visalia, California, so long ago that it takes him a minute to...

Water in America: Is It Safe to Drink?

  The West Virginia chemical spill brings attention to a broader national problem. By Tim FriendNational Geographic http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140217-drinking-water-safety-west-virginia-chemical-spill-science/ (02/17/2014) A chemical spill that left 300,000 residents of Charleston, West Virginia,...

Protecting Californians from Cancer-Causing Water Contaminant “1,2,3-TCP”

We’re thrilled that State Water Board staff just announced their preliminary recommendation to set the most health-protective legal limit for the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-TCP in drinking water! CWC's 1,2,3-TCP campaign...

California State Water Board holds meeting in Bakersfield about high levels of 1,2,3 TCP in the water

By Jessica Harrington July 26, 2016 Original Story: http://www.turnto23.com/news/local-news/california-state-water-board-holds-meeting-in-bakersfield-about-high-levels-of-123-tcp-in-the-wate BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The State Water Board held a public workshop in Bakersfield Tuesday on the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP).  The workshop...

State workshop informs water users 117 Kern County wells have levels of TCP

By Anne Di Grazia July 26, 2016 Original story: http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/news/117-kern-county-wells-have-levels-of-tcp   It was once classified as a "safe" pesticide by Central Valley farmers and an "okay" cleaning product. But 1-2-3 TCP...

More News