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Giles VAHWQP-2009-2017

published by Erin Ling

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Household Water Quality
The Virginia Household Water Quality Program provides affordable water testing and education through local Extension offices to the 1.7 million Virginians who rely on wells, springs or cisterns for their household water supply.
Giles County 2009-2017
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What's in your water?
Municipal water supplies are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which mandates routine testing and treatment.  Maintenance and testing of private water supplies (wells, springs and cisterns) is the responsibility of the owner.  Virginia Cooperative Extension offers water testing and education for private water supply users across the state
Drinking water clinics are held in county Extension offices each year.  Here's how it works:
Participation is voluntary and open to anyone with a well, spring or cistern. Participants pick up a sample kit and receive instructions about how to collect the samples from their household tap and where and when to drop off their samples.    
Following directions carefully, participants collect their samples and complete a short questionnaire. Samples are dropped off locally, so shipping is unnecessary. We coordinate getting the samples to Virginia Tech's campus for analysis.
Samples are analyzed for total coliform and E. coli bacteria, nitrate, lead, copper, arsenic, fluoride, sodium, hardness, iron, manganese, total dissolved solids, pH, and sulfate. The cost for one sample kit in 2017 was $55. Confidential results are prepared and returned to the Extension office.
Results are returned to participants and explained at a local interpretation meeting. Information is provided about addressing water quality problems, routine care, and maintenance of private water supplies.
Kickoff Meeting
#1
Sampling
#2
Analysis
#3
Results
#4
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Water Systems in Giles County (2009- 2017)
117 samples analyzed Serving 235 people Well depth: 0-1000 feet Well age: 4-65 years
44% of participants reported having treatment installed.   The most common device was a sediment filter.
Treatment
Eleven percent of participants did not know what type of system they had.   The most common source reported was drilled wells.
Systems
Contaminants in water may be health-related (e.g., bacteria) or a nuisance (e.g., hardness causing scale) and can come from a variety of sources.   Some contaminants originate from geology, the sediment or rock where the water is stored. Others are a result of land usage or activities on the earth's surface, such as lawn fertilizer, animal waste, or chemical spills. Proper construction of a well can protect household water quality by preventing surface water, which may carry many contaminants, from entering the groundwater supply. Wells should be constructed with proper casing, grout seal, and a sealed well cap. Contamination sources, such as livestock and septic systems should be at least 50 feet away from the well head. Treatment devices and plumbing components can also influence water quality by adding contaminants or changing water chemistry.
Landuse and nearby activities
Plumbing materials and water treatment
Well construction and location
Hydrogeology
Where do contaminants come from?
Household water quality
The most common contaminants found in household water in Giles County were total coliform bacteria, hardness, E.coli, sodium, iron and lead. Total coliform bacteria presence is an indication that surface water may be entering a well and other more harmful microorganisms may be present. Total coliform was found in 53% of the Giles County samples. E. coli were found in 25% of the samples and are a sign that human or animal waste is entering the water supply. Hardness is composed of calcium and magnesium, which originates in bedrock such as limestone.  Sodium is associated with water softeners, which are commonly used to remove hardness. Sodium can have negative health effects in excess levels.  Lead was found in first draw samples exceeding 0.015 mg/L in 4% of samples, and iron exceeding .3 mg/L in 5% of samples. These samples exceeded the EPA recommended limits.
Household water quality in Giles County: Common Contaminants
Total coliform bacteria
Sodium
For more  information about other common contaminants, please visit our Resources Page.
Lead
Hardness
E. Coli
Iron
www.wellwater.bse.vt.edu
Special thanks to the residents of Giles County who participated in the Virginia Household Water Quality Program drinking water clinics. Extension agent Jeannie Layton-Dudding, among other partners, were instrumental in the program's success.    
Virginia Household Water Quality Program Email: [email protected] Ph: 540-231-9058