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County drinking water meets most standards

Bacteria found in some wells

By JOHN RISHEL

jrishel@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — Water quality was a topic of discussion at Monday’s work session of the Clinton County Commissioners as grants administrator Gabriel Caprio provided an update on a baseline water quality study done on 54 wells scattered across the county.

“Twenty percent of the water used in the county comes from ground water wells. This was done to measure drinking water characteristics and just wrapped up,” Caprio said.

Caprio explained that while the county met “almost all of the drinking water standards” and the report was “overall pretty good,” 57 percent of the 54 wells tested showed high levels of coliform bacteria.

Coliform bacteria is a group of micro-organisms commonly found in soil, surface water and on plants. Coliform bacteria that are washed into the ground by rain are usually filtered out as the water goes through the soil and into groundwater systems. However, poorly constructed, cracked or unsealed wells can provide a path for coliform bacteria to enter groundwater and to contaminate drinking water.

Most coliform bacteria will not likely cause illness. However, these bacteria are used as indicators in water tests because their presence indicates that disease-causing organisms could also be in the water, and could signal the presence of feces of sewage waste.

Caprio added that the wells were tested in “the wettest three years we may have ever had.”

Commissioner Jeff Snyder noted that some of it could be attributed to surface water from farming communities.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of wells in this county, the percentage that is being tested is pretty small,” Snyder said.

Snyder also recommended well owners purchase ultra-violet lights which can be used to remove bacteria from well water.

“I suggest people install UV lights, that is the common sense approach to this. We know that now. They’re not that expensive. If we can say that with some amount of credibility, we should be saying that now.”

“Clean drinking water is a basic human need, so I just hope we can stay on top of this,” said commissioner Paul Conklin.

“We met almost all of the standards. That is important, so there is no panic,” said commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz. “We want to be the best. Not just good, the best.”

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