Assessing the well water quality in a rural Georgia county: Do Washington County citizens need to worry?
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Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, public water sources must be monitored for contaminants; and the results are made public. However, this Act does not cover private wells, leaving a significant portion of the population unprotected. In one rural Georgia county, Washington, an estimated 3,997 wells are currently in use. Local health officials believe that well contamination is a problem for the people using these wells. The purpose of this project was to take the available data and briefly assess the state-of-affairs for the county. After researching topics unique to Washington County and determining potential sources of well water contamination, aluminum, silica, manganese, total and fecal coliform bacteria, pH, and hardness were chosen for assessment. Despite limitations in the data, this study filled an important knowledge gap for Washington County in that no analysis had been conducted of the available data. For the parameters tested, it was concluded that Washington County well owners were not facing a significant health threat. Additionally, differences in contaminant levels among soil type and year of sample were not significant. The most important problem currently facing the county is lack of data. Washington County must begin to test wells more frequently to better assess contaminants of concern and to focus education and remediation efforts.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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