Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Caldwell have announced the results of Phase II of the County’s Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program, a component of Dutchess County’s ongoing groundwater protection strategy.
“We continue to enhance and improve our countywide data on ground water quantity and quality with the results of Phase II of our Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program. These results mirror the existing data we have collected from more than 700 public water systems (including over 1800 wells serving over 60 percent of the county’s population) and 11,000 private well logs,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
According to Steve Capowski, Director of Environmental Health, “The County has a voluminous amount of data about groundwater sources, which indicate the aquifers supplying our groundwater sources remain in good shape. Phase II data results are in line with state drinking water standards and our county guidelines for public water supplies.”
“Safe drinking water is everyone’s responsibility,” said Commissioner of Health Michael Caldwell, MD, MPH. “It is important that residents understand what is in the water they drink and how it affects their families’ health. The Dutchess County Health Department can help you learn all of the facts about drinking water and show you why ongoing well water testing is a key responsibility for homeowners.”
The Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program was launched by County Executive Steinhaus in 2007 as another initiative in the County’s long term groundwater protection strategy. It is a countywide, science based program designed to further the community knowledge about the quality of groundwater well sources in Dutchess County. This program of well water testing has been conducted in phases, with every municipality represented in each phase.
The procedure of Phase II was the same as Phase I of the Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program. Samples of untreated well water from the group of volunteer, single family owner occupied private residences were collected by an independent, private lab and analyzed for bacteria, inorganic and organic chemicals.
The following testing was done:
- Bacteriological testing – to determine if the well is vulnerable to contamination from dirt and/or sewage.
- Inorganic chemical analysis – to determine if there is contamination from a variety of chemicals including heavy metals such as copper and lead, which may be leaching from plumbing fixtures. Inorganic chemical testing also identifies chemicals that may cause taste or odor problems.
- Organic chemical analysis – to identify chemicals associated with industry and petroleum products and also those chemicals residents utilize in and around their homes for heating, house, lawn or car maintenance.
Phase II Results
The results of Phase II of the Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program were very similar to the results found in Phase I of the program and continued to reflect historical results of groundwater testing. While sodium was again the most commonly detected substance, there is no regulated maximum contaminant level (MCL) for sodium. However, there are recommended guidelines for both moderately and severely restricted sodium diets. Common sources of sodium are water softener system backwash and road salt.
Total coliform was the next most common analyte detected. The presence of total coliform suggests that an individual well may be poorly constructed and/or under the influence of sewage or surface water. Total coliform generally has little, if any, effect on healthy adults, but can indicate other organisms may be present that cause gastrointestinal illness, including diarrhea. If total coliform is present, the problem generally can be resolved through treatment.
There were no detections of principal organic compounds (POCs), including MTBE, above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) established by New York State Drinking Water Standards. The maximum contaminant level of MTBE is 10 parts per billion, which according to Capowski equals about one drop of water out of 18,000 gallons. POCs are man-made or manufactured chemicals often found in petroleum products and occur in wells that may be contaminated by leaking underground fuel tanks, gas stations, or industrial processes.
The findings of both Phases I and II of the County’s Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program are consistent with United States Geological Survey surveys of the drainage basins throughout New York State.
The results from both Phase I and II of the County’s Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program are available on the County’s http://www.dutchessny.gov/ website. This listing includes all test results by address and parcel number.
The start date of Phase III of the Comprehensive Well Water Testing Program is pending, dependent on funding availability.