Private Well Owner Outreach to Private Property Owners Association in the Poconos – Monroe County

The Keystone Clean Water Team was very happy to work with the local “Poconos Region” Property Owners Association to offer a private well water screening test for the residents drinking water.  For the 2016 program, a total of 16 residents participated in the program and for this program water testing was offered at two different tiers.  The basic tier provide general information related to the bacterial quality of the water and level of nitrate, iron, and total hardness.  The advanced tier provided testing for trace metals such as arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and more comprehensive analysis of the overall quality of the water.  The following is a summary of the results:

2 samples were positive for total coliform bacteria, but no samples were positive for E. coli.;

1 sample exceeded the drinking water standard for lead and 5 other samples had detectable levels of lead in the water;

13 of the 16 samples contained detectable levels of nitrate, but at no point did the level exceed or approach the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L;

1 sample had elevated levels of manganese, but 3 had detectable levels of manganese in the water; and

15 of the 16 samples were considered slightly to corrosive to metal piping and 1 sample was considered very corrosive to metal piping.

The pH of the water ranged for 6.2 to 7.5 and only two samples had a pH that was less than the recommended drinking water standard of 6.5.  These samples were associated with water that had detectable levels of lead, but not the highest level of lead.  The sample with the highest level of lead appeared to be a sample collected at the kitchen sink after the water had been treated with a water softener.

From this snapshot, we learned the following:

  1. There appears to be a 13 % probability that a private well may contain total coliform bacteria.
  2. The water produced from the aquifer tends to be slightly corrosive and have total hardness that ranges from 30 to 150 mg/L.
  3. The groundwater does not appear to have elevated levels of nitrate.
  4. The groundwater does not appear to have E. coli. bacteria.
  5. Lead was detected in some water samples, but the occurrence in the well water is related to the corrosiveness of the water, type of water treatment, and type of plumbing fixtures in the home and not the groundwater aquifer.
  6. Homeowners that reported problems with sulfur odor or black particles were the same homeowners that had elevated or detectable level of manganese.
  7. If you are considering the use of a water softener, please consider the type of household plumbing and it may be necessary to install a neutralizing filter.

Based on these results, we recommend that all private well owners conduct an annual water quality test.  To facilitate this effort, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers an online mail order informational water testing program for private well owners throughout the USA and we offer our Know Your H20? Free Phone App. To learn about our mail order program, please visit us at or   If you have any questions, please call or email 570-335-1947 or


Respectfully submitted,


Mr. Brian Oram, PG


SAFER PA Releases New Handbook for Private Water Well Owners in Pennsylvania

Upon recognizing that many homeowners in Pennsylvania do not have sufficient information regarding the function and management of their private water supplies, the Shale Alliance for Energy Research – Pennsylvania (SAFER PA) developed the “Pennsylvania Water Well Handbook”. This public service document conveys important information in a straight-forward manner, including an overview of Pennsylvania private water supplies, details on the natural water cycle, how water occurs in aquifers, typical water quality issues, best management practices for water well siting and construction, water quality protection, how to interpret laboratory reports, and improvement of water quality through treatment. The Handbook is expected to have wide distribution, and is available in both hard copy and in electronic form. It is intended to be used as a valuable information piece for well owners, industry and regulators . To obtain an electronic copy of the Handbook and for information concerning how to order hard copies, visit:

Web Optimized Copy as a pdf

The Shale Alliance for Energy Research, Pennsylvania (SAFER PA; Website Link:, an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing technology, analysis and education supporting safe and sustainable development of the Commonwealth’s shale resources, has made available the “Pennsylvania Water Well Handbook.”

Als0 – Do not forget to check out the Private Well Owner Guide to Pennsylvania, published in 2012.  Over 53 pages of helpful information on drinking water quality, baseline testing, shock well disinfection, and assistance with the Citizens Groundwater Database.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We have offered “Free” Assistance to this effort, but if you are a private well owner that needs assistance we are happy to help.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.  Follow us on Twitter 

Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.    Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission), but we also do local educational workshops and local cellphone/small electronic recycling programs. If you would like to set up a program to help recycle cellphones at an event, business, or other organization.  Through our program we can recycle  cell phones, iPods, game systems, and small digital cameras.  If your interested, please contact us.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).  Keystone Clean Water Team!

Pennsylvania Private Well Construction Standards HB 48, HB 81 and Senate Bill 1461

House Bill 343 and Senate Bill 1461 both died in the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee at the end of last year’s legislative session.  In January 2015, Representatives Harper and Godshall and Senator Vance re-introduced the legislation that died in the Senate Committee last session.

What can you do to support this re-introduced legislation?  Call your Representative and call your Senator and ask them to become co-sponsors of this legislation.

Representative Godshall introduced HB 48.  To read his memo

Representative Harper introduced HB 81.  To read her memo

Senator Vance will re-introduce SB 1461.  To read her memo

When you call, to help you explain the reasons why Pennsylvania needs residential water well construction standards, I have prepared some talking points you could use when you talk to your Representative and your Senator. You could pick a few points that you feel the strongest about or that relate directly to you.

Why does Pennsylvania need standards for the proper construction of residential water wells?

1. 50% of private well owners drink water that fails at least 1 primary drinking water standard.
2. About 30% of private well owners fail one or more primary drinking water standards and a secondary drinking water standard.
3. Failing a drinking water standard means people and children can get sick.
4. Poorly constructed private wells adversely impact the individual families and the communities.
5. Since Groundwater and Surface Water are connected and about 60% percent of surface water was actually groundwater, this means contaminated private wells impacts surface water quality.
6.Poorly constructed private wells have facilitated groundwater contamination and threatened public water supplies.
7. We need private well construction standards and we need a program to assist private well owners to fix their existing wells.
8. We do not need new PADEP regulations or oversight on private well water usage, but we need a public private partnership to educate the community, help identify the problems, and help to fix these problems.
9.  The Keystone Clean Water Team has been working on this effort since 1989.  We want to be part of the solution.
10. This is a health and public safety issue.

When You send a comment to the legislators cited above please mention the Keystone Clean Water Team –

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Well Water Testing Common Well Water Problems – Based on over 20 Years Experience First Step Water Testing

Common Water Well Owners Problems- The Need for Well Water Testing

This website was development to provide a quick summary and reference related to some of the most common well water problems that are encountered or reported.

Problem 1 – I tested my water and it is Total Coliform Positive and I was told the water is not potable.  What do I do?  What treatment system do I need?  Is my family safe?

Have a professional or licensed well driller inspect the well and conduct a shock disinfection of the well and distribution system (add a high dose of chlorine to the water, recirculate, and then flush it out – but not into an on-site sewage treatment system. After the well and system have been flushed, the water should be immediately tested for total coliform bacteria.
More Information

Problem 2 – My water is black and sometimes red or orange.  What toxic chemical causes this ?  Should I be buying bottled water??

Get the water tested – it is most likely iron and manganese. If you have never had the water tested, we would recommend a relatively comprehensive screening water test.   The color of the water will depend on the pH and form of the iron and manganese.  If the water enters the house clear and becomes discolored with time, the metals are dissolved in the water in a reduced form.  If the water enters the home slightly discolored and the color gets darker or deeper, it is probably a combination of reduced (dissolved) and oxidized (particle) form.   The solution will depend on the water testing results, but if you have an odor to the water or slime coatings the problem may also be caused by a slime or iron bacteria. Learn More at Iron/Manganese or Slime Bacteria.

Problem 3: My well water gets dirty after it rains and I get intermittent bacterial positive tests.

This could be a problem with the well casing, well construction, pitless adapter, or well cap.  The first action may be to inspect the well, change the well cap to a sanitary well cap, and conduct a shock disinfection.  If this does not correct the problem, you may need to inspect the well.  This would be a camera survey of the wellbore and you would want to check for problems related to the pitless adapter, welds on the casing, integrity of the steel casing, and the presence of cascading or intermittent water bearing zones just below the casing or driveshoe. 

Most Significant Problem
Improperly sited and constructed wells create a significant risk.  These wells short-circuit the natural flow of freshwater and in many cases can facilitate groundwater contamination.  The state of Pennsylvania and others need to create a program to fix private wells that make our Waters vulnerable to contamiantion. For PA – this was not caused by the wellowner, but caused by the lack of vision and proper regulations related to the siting and construction of private wells and permitting private wells to be installed in areas where available data suggested or indicated elevated levels of arsenic, iron, manganese, barium, and even saline water.  We need to act as a community to fix this problem and use funding to Fix Poorly Constructed Private Wells – Remember We ALL Live Downstream – Be Part of the Solution – Help Fix and Protect OUR Waters. (Oram, 2013)

Content of this webpage is copyrighted by B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc – Permission was granted to use this information to create this webpage.  The source of the information is the Private Well Owner Guide – Well Water Testing.


Website Provided for Educational Purpose.

Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  We are trying to keep Well Water in Pennsylvania the Keystone State Clean, Healthy, and Safe.

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