Backed by a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant, Virginia Tech is distributing water well sampling kits in areas hit hardest this hurricane season.
The sampling kits are being passed out with the help of local universities throughout Texas and Florida to residents with wells. The samples will then to be sent back to Virginia Tech where they will look for dangerous bacteria and harmful chemicals.
As of October 24, Virginia Tech was preparing to test about 1000 water samples from Texas and Florida, according to WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Virginia. Once the tests are completed, Virginia Tech will contact hurricane victims to inform them if it is safe to drink their water or if they need to invest and disinfect.
On October 25, the Houston Chronicle reported nearly 60 percent of water samples from 50 private wells in Harris County tested positive for total coliform and E. coli. In Harris County, 18 percent of the samples revealed E. coli.
Virginia Tech’s lab, at the request of CNN, also tested water from a hazardous waste site in Dorado, Puerto Rico, where residents began taking water from wells. The lab found no dangerous chemicals were present and it was safe for human consumption.
The December 2017 issue of NGWA’s Water Well Journal will have an in-depth case study article on lessons learned from Hurricane Matthew as well as a sidebar article on the importance of water well resilience.