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Extension service offers well water workshop

Pearl River County residents can have a free bacteria screen of their private well water from the Mississippi State Extension Service Thursday.

The Extension Service will be holding a well testing workshop on Dec. 5 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Pearl River County Extension Office.

The workshop will be instructed by Dr. Jason Barrett who will go over test results from attendees’ well water samples and answer any questions attendees have about their results, said Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith.

When a home is connected to a private well, the owner is solely responsible for making sure the water is safe, whereas a community system has oversight from the state government, Barrett said. Private wells should be tested for bacteria at least once a year, Barrett said.

“Water quality is a key factor, because most home owners know little about well operations,” Barrett said.

The office will test the samples for e. coli and coliform bacteria before the workshop Thursday. E. coli is a bacteria that can make people very sick. If a water sample tests positive for it, users are asked to stop using the water for all purposes until the well can be flushed and screened again, Barrett said.

When total coliform is found without e. coli, it means some bacteria is present somewhere, so the first step is to pull another water sample to confirm the results. Then they would start looking to see what the cause might be and disinfect the well, Barrett said.

Attendees should submit their well water for testing by Dec. 4 and must use sample bottles provided by the Extension office. The sample bottles can be picked up Tuesday or Wednesday at the Extension office, where people can also register for the event. Water samples cannot stay in the bottle for more than 12 hours, Smith said, so samples have to be collected on Dec. 4. The Extension office is open until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Extension office has held the event two years previously, Smith said. Pearl River County was selected for the program because the county has one of the highest numbers of private well owners in the state.

An EPA grant makes it possible to offer the testing and training for free, according to a press release from the Extension Service.

Anytime well water has a taste or color that seems off, the water should be tested to make sure it is safe to drink, Smith said. Resources exist within the state to help well owners manage their water system, Barrett said. The state’s Health Department has a technician who can test well water and the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory can also test well water, Smith said.

The Pearl River County Extension Office is located at 401 W. Lamar St., Poplarville. To learn more about the workshop call 662-325-1788.