The Pocahontas County Water Resources Task Force and West Virginia University Extension Service co-sponsored a water well information workshop on Friday night at the Marlinton Municipal Building. The purpose of the workshop was to inform homeowners how to inspect, maintain and disinfect a private water well, and to provide information on a variety of water treatment systems.
Richard Shaver, with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR), and Lew Baker, with the West Virginia Rural Water Association, gave information briefings during the workshop. Attendees had the option to submit water samples for complete bacteriological and mineral testing at a cost of $75.
The experts provided a checklist of steps that homeowners should take to ensure their wells are safe:
1. Always use licensed or certified water well drillers and pump installers when a well is constructed, a pump is installed, or the system is serviced.
2. An annual well maintenance check, including a bacterial test, is recommended. Drinking water should be checked any time there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, or when the well system is serviced.
3. Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well.
4. Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the well to ensure it is in good repair.
5. Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems or chemical storage facilities.
6. When landscaping, keep the top of your well at least one foot above the ground. Slope the ground away from your well for proper drainage.
7. Take care in working or mowing around your well. A damaged casing could jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. Don’t pile snow, leaves, or other materials around your well.
8. Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, as well as annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.
Be aware of changes in your well, the area around your well, or the water it provides.
9. When your well has come to the end of its serviceable life (usually 20-plus years), have a qualified water well contractor decommission it after constructing your new system.
A well provides a direct channel to the underground aquifer. The experts stressed the importance of protecting the aquifer from contamination by making sure wells are properly capped, and by properly decommissioning unused wells.
A good metal well cap will prevent insects and vermin from entering your well. The disgusting thought of a decaying mouse in their drinking water should be enough motivation for homeowners to make sure their well cap is secure.
Surface water flowing into a well will contaminate an aquifer. When closing a well, owners should not allow the well casing to be cut off below ground level. A qualified water well contractor should be hired to properly fill or seal the well.
For homeowners, the Pocahontas County Health Department tests water wells for bacteria contamination at a cost of $45. The Health Department receives $25 of the fee and the testing laboratory receives $20. Additional fees apply for real estate professionals. For more information, call 304-799-4154.
Complete mineral and chemical analysis of well water is available from licensed laboratories in the state. The WVDHHR provides a list of certified water testing laboratories and other information for homeowners at https://wvdhhr.org/phs/water/index.asp.