For private water users, a way to check quality, understand issues


About one in five homes in Virginia use private water, but what’s in it?

A variety of factors contribute to water quality for wells, and the Virginia Household Water Quality Program can help homeowners understand potential issues they may face and make informed decisions as consumers about the water their families drink.

Chesapeake and Virginia Beach will participate in the program this summer, which involves a kickoff in late July, a kit to test household water at the tap, and results delivered in August.

The program is an opportunity for people to learn more about well construction and maintenance, treatment devices and potential contaminants, according to Erin Ling, a water quality extension associate at Virginia Tech who coordinates the Virginia Household Water Quality Program.

“There are a lot of people looking into water treatment options, and they don’t always know what might work for them,” she said by phone on Tuesday, June 16. 

Information also helps local and state officials gain a better understanding of issues. In recent years, it has led to some interesting things to track, such as contaminents or the presence of lead in some water.

“We see a fair amount coliform bacteria,” Ling said. “That’s an indicator organism. If we find it in the well, there’s a pathway to get there.” 

Coliforms, present in animal digestive tracts and waste, may signal other pathogens are in the water.

“This program is designed to be a service, and the results are confidential,” she said. “Our sampling is homeowner collected, and it’s household water. It’s what people are actually consuming in their houses.”

In Virginia Beach, kickoff meetings and kit pick up are July 27 at the Department of Agriculture office at 2449 Princess Anne Road, with samples due back July 29 and results meetings scheduled for Aug. 20.

In Chesapeake, the kickoff is July 27 and 28 and a results meetings on Aug. 27 at the Central Library, 298 Cedar Road. Samples are due back July 29 to the Chesapeake Extension Trailer, 212 Holt Drive.

Sample kits are $49. Detailed schedules are available from the Beach Virginia Cooperative Extension Office via or (757)385-8316. 

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