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UMaine Extension Specialist To Discuss Well Water Testing

Contact: For information about well water safety, call Laura Wilson, (207) 581-2971 or email laura.wilson@maine.edu; for information about or two register for well water testing workshops, contact the local adult education office.

ORONO – As more studies are attempting to link the presence of toxic germs and chemicals in well water to illnesses such as asthma and the development of cognitive abilities in children, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is attempting the educate well water users about the importance of regular testing and maintenance of private water systems.

Cooperative Extension Water Quality Scientist Laura Wilson will begin this week conducting workshops designed to educate and raise awareness of the importance of testing privately owned well water.

The hour-long workshops are being held through adult education programs in Ellsworth, Bucksport, Hampden, Orono, Steuben, Searsport, and Sullivan. Members of the public who are interested in attending a session are encouraged to contact the local adult education office.

Some of the workshops are free, while others cost up to $6 to attend. The cost varies by adult education program.

Wilson will cover topics such as taking care of a well, how to get well water tested, and common well contaminants. Knowledge gained from this session will include why well water may not be safe and how to ensure that it is.

It is estimated about half of Maine residents are drinking well water.

“We’re trying to get the word out that the water you’re drinking may not be safe,” Wilson said. “There’s bacteria that can make you sick, but there’s also naturally occurring arsenic and radon that can be a long-term chronic health issue.”

The Maine Center for Disease Control recommends wells are tested every year for bacteria, nitrates and nitrites, and every three years for chemicals such as arsenic, radon, lead, flouride and uranium.

Wilson’s workshops begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 15 at Ellsworth High School. She will be at Bucksport High School at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6. The rest of the schedule is as follows: Monday, Oct. 18 at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden at 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, October 20 in Orono (location to be determined) at 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, October 28 in Steuben (location to be determined) at 6 p.m.; Thursday, November 11 at Searsport Middle School at 6 p.m.; Wednesday, November 17 in Sullivan (location to be determined) at 6 p.m.

The workshops are especially timely as Maine, which has high levels of arsenic that naturally occur in bedrock, has been involved in studies of the connection between arsenic and health. UMaine biochemist Julie Gosse and student researchers have been looking into the link between arsenic in drinking water and asthma and immune defense cell function.

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