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Llano-area residents can have their well water tested at a screening May 2 hosted by the Texas Well Owner Network, according to an AgriLife Extension media release. 

Samples must be dropped off from 8:30-10 a.m. that day at the Llano County Extension Office, 1447 Texas 71 East, Unit E, in Llano. Cost is $10 per sample. A meeting explaining screening results will be at 6 p.m. May 3 in Schorlemmer Hall at St. James Lutheran Church, 1401 Ford St. in Llano. 

The screening is presented by AgriLife Extension and Texas Water Resources Institute in partnership with the AgriLife Extension office in Llano County. 

Residents should pick up sample bags, bottles, and instructions from the local Extension Office.

“It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office be used and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results,” said John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist-College Station, in the media release.

Private water wells should be tested annually, Smith said. Samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen, and salinity. 

According to Smith, research shows that the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates waste from humans or warm-blooded animals could have contaminated it. Water contaminated with E. coli is more likely to also have pathogens present that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and other symptoms.

The presence of nitrate-nitrogen in well water is also a concern.  “Water with nitrate-nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption,” Smith said. “These nitrate levels above 10 parts per million can disrupt the ability of blood to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia. Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible.” 

Salinity as measured by total dissolved solids also will be determined for each sample, he said. Water with high levels might leave deposits and have a salty taste. Using water with high levels for irrigation could damage soil or plants.

Smith said it is extremely important for those submitting samples to be at the May 3 meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems, and improve their understanding of private well management. 

For more information, call the AgriLife Extension office in Llano County at 325-247-5159.