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Harris County: “OK to drink well water”

Jackie Young explains water wells and groundwater at Tuesday’s meeting.

Jackie Young explains water wells and groundwater at Tuesday’s meeting.

New lab tests okay well water & Highlands Water Company water

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Several dozen residents of the area attended a meeting at the Community Center in Highlands Tuesday night, when local environmental activist Jackie Young explained the best practices for maintaining private wells.

The audience also learned that Harris County Public Health had sent a second letter to homeowners whose wells had been tested for contamination, telling them that a second round of lab tests indicated their water was now safe to drink, or use to wash and cook.

These homes totaled about 100, in Highlands, Lynchburg, and Channelview. Of the 100 that had agreed to have their well water tested, 71 had originally been told not to drink or bath with their water. However the second letter notified them that an error in the laboratory was the reason for their test results, and a retest by a different lab had indicated pollutants were below an acceptable level, and their well water could now be safely used.

HIGHLANDS WATER TESTS OKAY

In a similar series of tests, Mark Taylor of the Harris County Water Control & Improvement District #1 (Highlands Water Company) informed the Star-Courier that they had their water tested by an independent lab, and it had tested well below the safe threshold of 30 parts per picolitre. In fact the results showed less than 5 parts per picolitre. Highlands gets their water only 20% from wells, and the other 80% is purchased from the Baytown Water Authority, which purchases water from the City of Houston Water Department. Baytown further treats the water before providing it to Highlands, Taylor said.

A PRIMER ON WELLS & GROUNDWATER

Jackie Young handed out a fact filled manual, showing statistics and definitions related to well water, which comes from groundwater.

She first discussed drilled wells, and the three types of wells:

  • Bored or Shallow, up to 100 feet deep
  • Consolidated or Rock well, up to 250 feet deep, and bedded in layers of solid rock
  • Unconsolidated or Sand wells, the deepest which reach the water in soft soil, clay, gravel and sand.

Which ever type of well you might have, she emphasized that the top of the well bore needed a Concrete Surface Seal, or cement collar, to keep pollutants from dropping into the well bore.