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State recommends well conservation, tests

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POSTED: November 24, 2007 5:01 a.m.
ATLANTA — Georgia faces one of the most severe droughts in its history. Rivers and reservoirs are at record lows, and many communities face water shortages that could challenge their ability to meet water supply needs.
Private well owners should be aware that water volume may be impacted by the drought. Therefore, they should also practice the same conservation measures used by those on public water supplies.
Well water is obtained from subterranean sources. These underground water sources are also affected by drought conditions and they can go dry. The groundwater that supplies wells also feeds streams, rivers and lakes. Limiting well-water use will help conserve water.
Conservation can also decrease the potential for contamination by bacteria and chemicals that could affect well-water quality and the health of those who drink it.
During a drought, water may temporarily change color, odor and taste. These changes will not necessarily affect human health adversely. But the Georgia Division of Public Health recommends that if well owners notice a change in their water quality they should consult their local health department and have their water tested.
Individual well owners are responsible for testing their own water and making sure it is safe to drink. Well water should be tested at least once a year. Well owners can also may contact the local office of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service for water quality testing.
Robert E. Bell, who is with the Liberty County Extension Service, knows how important testing well water is.
“For the private well owners, the most important item you can test for is bacteria. Just because you tested the water once years ago doesn’t mean that it is still safe. Water should be tested often and if you start to notice health problems that may be tied to contaminated water,” Bell said.
Environmental Health in Liberty County does water tests for coliform and the cost is $35.
For more information on how to test water well for contaminants, call GDPH, Environmental Health Section at (404) 657-6534 or the county health department.
For more information on conserving water both inside and outside the home visit
 www.conservewatergeorgia.net/ and www.caes.uga.edu/extension
 

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