Private water well screening set for May 3 and 4 in Van Horn

By Zach Schaefer

Agri-Life Agent

The Texas Well Owner Network is hosting a water well screening on May 3 in Van Horn to give area residents the opportunity to have their well water screened. A meeting will follow on May 4 to explain the results.

The Well Informed water sample drop-off will be on Monday, May 3 from 8:30–10:00 a.m. at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office for Culberson County, 300 La Caverna St. or the Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District office, 1300 W. Broadway St. A meeting explaining screening results will be delivered to participants at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 4th at El Capitan Meeting Room, 100 E. Broadway St., Van Horn.

The screening is presented by AgriLife Extension and Texas Water Resources Institute, or TWRI, in partnership with the AgriLife Extension office in Culberson County and the Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District.

John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, College Station, said area residents wanting to have their well water screened should pick up a sample bag, bottle and instructions from the AgriLife Extension office or groundwater conservation district office.

“It is very important that only sampling bags and bottles from the AgriLife Extension office be used and all instructions for proper sampling are followed to ensure accurate results,” Smith said.

The samples must be turned in by 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 3. The cost for each sample is $10.

Smith said private water wells should be tested annually. Samples will be screened for contaminants, including total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrate-nitrogen and salinity.

Smith said research shows the presence of E. coli bacteria in water indicates that waste from humans or warm-blooded animals may have contaminated the water. Water contaminated with E. coli is more likely to also have pathogens present that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea or other symptoms.

The presence of nitrate-nitrogen in well water is also a concern.

“Water with nitrate-nitrogen at levels of 10 parts per million is considered unsafe for human consumption,” Smith said. “These nitrate levels above 10 parts per million can disrupt the ability of blood to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia. Infants less than 6 months of age and young livestock are most susceptible.”

Salinity, as measured by total dissolved solids, will also be determined for each sample, he said. Water with high levels may leave deposits and have a salty taste. Using water with high levels for irrigation may damage soil or plants.

Smith said it is extremely important for those submitting samples to be at the Tuesday, May 4 meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and improve their understanding of private well management.

For more information, please contact the AgriLife Extension office in Culberson County at 432- 283-8440 or the Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District at 432-283-1548.

To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, please visit


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