Many In Potter County Can Qualify For Free Water Well Testing

From Potter County Today

watertestProperty owners in Potter County who have private wells may be able to qualify for free water quality analysis. Tests for those property owners whose income does not exceed limits will be provided through a $150,000 Colcom Foundation grant. Samples will be analyzed for pH, total dissolved solids, bacteria, barium, chloride, nitrogen, arsenic and corrosivity. Interested water well owners should contact Kelly Williams of the Clearfield County Conservation District at 765-2629 or Spring water sources are not eligible.


Pennsylvania is one of only two states that do not regulate private water well construction. Townships and boroughs have the power to establish constructions standards, but few of them do. Poorly constructed wells with inadequate casings invite contaminants, according to Penn State Extension water specialist Bryan Swistock. He advises property owners to get a baseline test of well water before gas drilling in their area, as well as afterward. However, testing makes sense even in areas where there is no gas exploration.


“It has  provided a lot of information for people who never had it,” Swistock said. “Sometimes they are surprised by what they see, because they have no symptoms in the water. Many get tests only when they notice an odor or a change in the water’s color or taste. Substances that cause those problems — iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide – often aren’t health issues. But dangerous contaminants, such as coliform, E. coli bacteria and arsenic, can go unnoticed without testing.” A 2009 report by Penn State Extension showed that about 40 percent of wells contain at least one contaminant.


State law presumes that gas well drillers are responsible for water quality problems in wells within 1,000 feet of a well during drilling and six months after, unless pre-drilling water testing shows those problems already existed. While companies aren’t required to test water wells, many do so to provide a baseline before drilling. Homeowners who are concerned about nearby drilling can rely on the gas driller’s test or have their own tests conducted.


DEP recommends the following water tests be done as part of Marcellus Shale gas drilling activity: pH, total dissolved solids, iron, manganese, sodium, methane, ethane, total suspended solids, alkalinity, conductivity, oil and grease, residue (both filterable and unfilterable), barium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, strontium, sulfate, hardness, total coliform bacteria and E. coli bacteria.


Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.

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One Comment

  1. Janice L.Hancharick says:

    News of the free water testing was “out there” this past spring. Those who follow through with it should ask for a Tier III level test, if that option is available to them. Penn State suggested that for people wanting a baseline test before any gas/oil drilling be started. Based on their recommendation, Tier III is included in 4-County Group’s leasing document.
    Dad, (W.E. Lanphere) was very active in drilling (gas,oil,water) in the region from mid 1930’s up into the 1980’s. The water wells he put in underwent testing for water purity before he left site, but probably not Tier III. I don’t know what Penn State was advocating back then, but I recall he attended PSU classes to learn the procedure and get the supplies necessary to make that a part of his standard well service.

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