well water testing

The Texas County Health Department in 2018 collected 123 well water samples to test for bacteria. Of those samples, 83 (67-percent) tested absent for coliform or E. coli bacteria and are satisfactory for drinking purposes, while 40 samples (33-percent) showed the presence of coliform and were marked as unsatisfactory for drinking water. Ten of those samples also showed the presence of E. coli bacteria (possibly from sewage contamination), posing additional health risks.

Wells that tested unsatisfactory are disinfected to determine if they are under the direct influence of surface waters from poor well construction or aquifer issues. Most of those wells will clear up after a proper disinfection process, but not all. Owners of those wells are instructed to add either a chlorination system or a ultra-violet light to kill bacteria.

Health department officials said private residences can either disinfect or not, and whether to add treatment devices is always the homeowner’s call. Wells called “non-community public” that serve water (such as convenient stores, restaurants and daycares) must install a proper chlorination system that provides a measureable residual. This will be checked on regular inspections but at least yearly.

This health department also collected 14 private water samples where people were having issues with odors, color or taste, which were examined for a reading on pH, fluoride, chloride, nitrate-N, sulfate, manganese, iron and lead. The majority of the time there are no issues of concern, as the Ozarks’ water supply is very low in minerals (although it’s often “hard”).

Health department officials said there are sometimes issues with iron, which showed up above suggested limits in four samples. There are several different technologies to remove iron from private water supplies that may be suggested, depending on type and quantity of the iron.

health dept.
health dept.

Only an environmental public health specialist is allowed to collect and send in these private water samples for minerals. The bacteriological samples can be collected by homeowner and dropped back off at local health department. There is a $10 lab fee for persons collecting their own samples.

The Texas County Health Department doesn’t charge for the collection of water samples, and tries to coordinate them when there are other inspections in a given area to cut down on mileage cost.

For more information about testing of water or proper treatment technologies, call Ronnie Gaston at the health department at 417-967-4131 (preferably between 8 and 9 a.m. weekdays).

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