Flint-Like Problems in Virginia Wells

    Published: May 10, 2016

    Researchers Find Flint-Like Problems in Virginia Wells

    The water crisis in Flint, Michigan rages on under the scrutiny of the public eye after outcry over lead pollution and other issues was heard nationwide. Public officials have been quick to condemn the treatment of the water and the handling of the situation, but the path to cleaner water for the citizens of Flint has proven long and difficult.

    But drinking water full of contaminants isn’t unique to just Flint, and isn’t a problem that’s only developed recently. A team of researchers at Virginia Tech has been testing private water wells in the state as part of Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension since 2008.

    More than 20 percent of Virginians utilize private water supplies like wells for their home. The research team at Virginia Tech began testing these wells as part of an initiative to protect the citizens of the commonwealth from the potentially harmful contaminants found in poorly treated well water.

    What they found is harrowing – over 60 percent of the well samples tested contained contaminant levels above the federal standards for municipal systems according to The Roanoke Times. Among the sources tested, nearly 20 percent contained Flint-like levels of lead, and coliform bacteria were present in approximately 40 percent of the wells. According to Leigh Anne Krometis, a biological systems engineering assistant professor, there are “failing systems all around” Virginia.

    The Virginia Household Water Quality Program works with the citizens of Virginia to educate them and keep their water well systems from failing and becoming irrevocably contaminated. Marc Edwards, the leader of Virginia Tech’s Flint Water Study group, says that the Quality Program is “doing a great service” for the people of Virginia.

    As one can see, however, drinking water contamination is more widespread than ever, even with such programs actively seeking to educate the public. According to a 2010 U.S. Geological Survey report, approximately 1.7 million people in Virginia depend on private wells to supply their drinking water. With no regulatory committee in place, wells can quickly become contaminated if proper treatment is not regularly administered.

    Erin Ling, senior extension associate and program coordinator, admits that many problems stem from the general lack of knowledge and understanding private well owners have of the treatment necessary to keep their wells optimally clean and contaminant-free. No municipal water infrastructure exists for the private well owners of Virginia, so neglect can spell disaster for the quality of their drinking water.

    You don’t have to live in Flint to unknowingly drink contaminated, harmful drinking water. For cities, towns, and private residences across America waiting is the ultimate risk. If you get your drinking water from a well or are concerned about the quality of the water in your home, contact a Pelican Water professional today.