By Frank Waksmunski
The Times News, © 2003

August 9, 2003

When my wife and I were buying a house in Towamensing Township in 1997, we knew we would have to give up some conveniences, like central water and sewer. That didn’t bother us because we would be like everyone else living here. So what was the big deal?

I lived my whole life on “city” water and never gave it a thought.

Being a retired research chemist, I did think about it now, and I asked the seller for a drink of water. It was delicious. However, the chemist in me said, “Frank, you can’t analyze water by taste, color or odor.”

We had the house inspected by a professional, and he asked if I wanted my well tested for bacteria. I said yes and asked him about testing for other contaminants. He said that most people don’t even test the well, and there was no reason to test for other “things” because everyone here has good water. He also added that it would take months to get the results and thus delay our closing.

I reluctantly bought that reasoning.

The bacteria test was negative, but the chemist in me would not leave me alone. It kept saying, “Frank, you don’t know what you’re drinking!”

I figured I could easily get more information on my area’s groundwater. I asked my neighbors if they had their water tested.

They didn’t. I talked to others, and the stock answer I got was, “I’ve been drinking this water all my life and there’s nothing wrong with me.” Somehow that didn’t cut it with me.

Finding information on local water quality was not easy. I was a bit miffed. I didn’t know many people in the area, but I did know LeRoy Skinner, an environmental education teacher at Jim Thorpe Area High School. LeRoy didn’t have answers to some of my questions, and that upset him. We both agreed that there should be a place where residents could easily get free information on wells, water testing, septics etc.

We went to work on this problem. That was in 1999. We formed partnerships with Wilkes University and the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, and affiliated with The Groundwater Foundation in Lincoln, Nebraska. The result is CCGG, Carbon County Groundwater Guardians, the one-stop place to get your answers on drinking water, wells, septics, testing etc. CCGG is nonprofit and doesn’t sell anything. Everything is free. What a bargain.

I do have relatively good well water, although it is slightly corrosive and a bit high in manganese and arsenic, but below the action level. Every morning I run water to flush copper and lead buildup from the pipes. If I had young children, I would reduce the arsenic level with treatment.

Now, the chemist in me is asking, “Frank, do other people know what they’re drinking?”