Erin Ling is showing us how easy it is to find out if your drinking water is safe. "A lot of times it's out of sight out of mind until it stops working or your water turns some crazy color or starts smelling or something like that," she explained.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension reports more than 22% of Virginians, 1.7 million people, rely on wells, springs or cisterns for water yet many don't actually test what they drink to make sure it's safe. "Surface water can get down into the water supply, things like bacteria, nitrate, herbicides or pesticides might get into the water supply and those as we know can have human health effects as we're drinking that water."
The Virginia Household Water Quality Program is designed to prevent that from happening through a series of upcoming drinking water clinics across the state. Ling says it's relatively inexpensive and $49, participants get a sample kit with instructions on how to collect the water at home. It's as simple as filling four bottles and taking them to a drop site where they'll be delivered to a lab for testing. When the results come back, you'll get your confidential information along with an explanation of what the numbers mean for you. "What do these numbers mean, do I need to be concerned, is this a health concern or is this just a nuisance," Ling explained.
Participants will be directed for further testing, if needed. Everyone will be encouraged to check their water annually or get their wells inspected, much like the cars they drive, to make sure the water they drink stays safe.
You do need to pre-register to take part in a clinic. The next clinic is Monday is Montgomery County. Clinics are scheduled to take place across the state through this spring. You can find a complete listing of the dates and locations here.