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Residents concerned by well water study

December 22, 2000

Residents concerned by well water study



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Health Department was flooded with phone calls Friday morning following the release of a report that suggested some water wells in the county have high chance of being contaminated.

"We were only open for a half day and about 75 percent of our calls were on that," said Bill Kearns, office manager for the health department on South Queen Street.

Kearns said most callers were wanting to know how to get tests conducted on their water wells.

At the federal Soil Conservation Service office on Edwin Miller Boulevard, about a dozen calls were received from people wanting to know how to get the tests done, said Roger Boyer, project coordinator of the Potomac Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council.

The study suggests that 60 percent of the water wells in some sections of the county are contaminated with bacteria.

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The study focuses mostly on underground limestone terrain, which makes up about a third of the county, according to the report, which was conducted by Boyer's organization.

The study indicates at least four different bacteria are thriving in the county's groundwater, including E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria. Two other cantaminants that have been spotted in groundwater are known as clostridium and giardia, according to officials with the Potomac Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council, which conducted the study.Both clostridium and giardia can cause serious illness, officials with the organization said.

It is not known if there has been any illness associated with the bacteria, although officials who worked on the report said its possible people could be suffering from symptoms associated with bacteria but are associating them with a medical complication.

Staff at the health department were allowed to leave early for the holidays Friday and could not be reached for comment.

The report said the bacteria could be coming from failing residential septic systems.

Boyer suggested that any county residents using well water have their wells tested as soon as possible.

The health department's four sanitarians will test well water for anyone who requests it, Kearns said. The tests are $45 each.

Officials who conducted the study would not reveal the names of the 50 homeowners who agreed to allow their wells to be tested for the study.

Across the county Friday, there was some concern over the report.

Carl Jones, who lives on Swinging Bridge Lane near Tomahawk, said he just had his well tested and about the only problem was some iron in the water.

Jones said he feels comfortable with quality of his well water, "for now.""I'll definitely have it checked on a regular basis," Jones said.

Debbie Minghini, who lives on Palmer Road near Hedgesville, said she had bacteria in her well about eight years ago. It was suggested she flush her well with bleach, which corrected the problem, Minghini said.

"Somewhere along the line, I would like it to be tested again to make sure," Minghini said.

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