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Pearl River County residents can attend private well workshop, bring water samples for testing

Private well owners will soon be able to benefit from free water testing offered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Grant funding for the workshops come from the Environmental Protection Agency, who provides that money to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, who in turn provides it to universities, said Assistant Extension Professor Dr. Jason Barrett. 180 water screenings and workshops in four locations will be held. The first 45 people to register for the workshop will receive free testing of their well water sample. All other screenings will be offered for $25, according to an Extension press release.

Pearl River County Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith said the tests will look for the presence of E. coli bacteria and chloroform. Registrants can pick up their bottles between Oct. 1 -6 or on Oct. 8. The workshop will be held on Oct. 9 at the Pearl River County Extension Office, located in Poplarville at 417 Highway 11 N.

The workshop will not only allow people to bring their samples for testing, but also provide valuable information concerning issues private well owners may face, such as low water pressure, unusual coloration or water contamination. Smith said the workshop will last about a couple of hours and will include a question and answer session. So far, more than 30 people have signed up for the workshop.

Barrett said private well owners should become worried if they notice an unusual smell or taste that is atypical of their well. However the bacteria that is of concern can not be seen with the naked eye, which is why screenings are recommended. To rectify issues with a well that has been identified to have issues, solutions may include chlorination, or some other form of disinfection.

The workshop will include presentations from representatives of various universities about how ground water hydrology provides water to private wells, how septic systems work and best practices concerning private wells.

“I like for people to know that they have people they can turn to if they have questions,” Barrett said.

Results from the testing will be mailed to those who submit samples along with information detailing how to understand the results.

Within the state of Mississippi, Pearl River County ranks seventh of the state’s 82 counties for homes on private wells, with 16,131 of the population relying on that access, according to a study conducted in 2015 by the Extension Service.