Private water well screening set for Feb. 5 in Bellville and Brenham

Windmill at sunset (Journal photo by Lacey Newlin.)

Test results provided during Feb. 7 meeting in Bellville

The Texas Well Owner Network, TWON, in conjunction with the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership, is hosting a “Well Educated” water well screening Feb. 5 in Bellville and Brenham.

Joel Pigg, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist and TWON coordinator, Bryan-College Station, said the program is for Texas residents who depend on household wells for their water needs.

“The program was established to help well owners become familiar with Texas groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance and construction, and water quality and treatment,” he said. “It allows them to learn more about how to improve and protect their community water resources.”

Water samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen and salinity.

Samples can be dropped off from 8:30-10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office in Austin County, 800 E. Wendt St. in Bellville, or at the AgriLife Extension office in Washington County, 1305 E. Blue Bell Road, Suite 104 in Brenham.  

There will be a $15 charge per sample for the water screening.

The follow-up meeting to explain the results of the screenings will be from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Kenney Agricultural Society Hall, 444 Hall Road in Bellville.

The screening is presented by AgriLife Extension and Texas Water Resources Institute, TWRI, in partnership with the AgriLife Extension offices in Austin and Washington counties, and the watershed partnership.

Sampling instructions

Pigg said area residents who want to have their well water screened should pick up a sample bag, bottle and instructions from the AgriLife Extension offices in Bellville or Brenham.

“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,” Pigg said.

Private water wells should be tested annually, he said.

Pigg said it is extremely important for those submitting samples to attend the Feb. 7 meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and improve their understanding of private well management.

Well water contaminants, concerns

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

The presence of nitrate-nitrogen in well water is also a concern, and water with nitrate-nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption, he 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,” Pigg said. “Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible to this.”

Salinity, as measured by total dissolved solids, will also be determined for each sample.

Water with high salinity levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste. Using water with high levels for irrigation may damage soil or plants.

To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, visit For more information, contact Pigg at 979-321-5946 or [email protected] or Annalee Epps, AgriLife Extension watershed coordinator, at 979-321-5921 or [email protected].

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Funding for the Texas Well Owner Network is through a Clean Water Act section 319(h) nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project is managed by TWRI, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.