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Contaminated wells may not be dangerous

Out of 70 wells tested by the health department since last March, 35% were found to be positive for coliform bacteria. Environmental health inspector Todd Driver said this number is not as alarming as it sounds. First of all, the wells were not found in a specific cluster but all over the county. Second, bacterial testing is not for specific germs. This means some wells contained friendly bacteria, similar to those found in yogurt, overall test. It doesn’t mean you’re getting sick,” Driver said. “These were wells that were tested after we advertised well testing and people were curious.” He suggests people get their wells tested once a year. Driver noted wells are most commonly exposed to bacteria when they are newly dug or have just been repaired. This is due to people handling drill bits, augers, pumps and other mechanical equipment that come into contact with water. To be on the safe side, a well should be decontaminated after repairs, since sediment filters do not remove bacteria. It is easy to decontaminate a well. All it takes is a treatment of bleach which is poured into the well, left to do its work for a bit then flushed out. This is called shocking a well; complete directions are available at the health department. ”It normally takes one treatment,” he said. “Extreme cases may take two.” A third way a well can be contaminated is if entry pipes are not properly sealed. ”An animal can get in and die,” he said. Well testing costs $30. There is no charge for a retest if a well is found to be contaminated. ”Just come by the health department, pay the fee and fill out a brief application,” Driver said.

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