Safe water, ponds and septic systems in 2010 water-quality webinars

University Park, Pa. -- Water quality and water conservation will be the focus of five Web-based seminars produced by Penn State Cooperative Extension this spring. Topics will include water testing, septic systems, managing ponds and lakes, and safe drinking water.

The first webinar will cover strategies to monitor water wells, springs and streams that are near gas-drilling sites. That presentation will air at noon and again at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27.

"We're starting to get a lot of questions about how people should monitor or test water wells or streams when there is drilling nearby," said Bryan Swistock, senior extension associate in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "This webinar will cover what they should do in terms of testing, what tests to run, who does it, how often and how much it will it cost."

Swistock said there are many different testing options, depending on the water use. He said the simplest way to monitor water quality is to test for total dissolved solids. "If there is a spill or leak from a drilling site, the dissolved solids would indicate that," he said, "but if you want to test drinking water, you'll need a more thorough test than that."

Swistock stressed that testing performed by the homeowner may have limited value if a case were to develop into a lawsuit. He suggested that in instances when legal action may occur, homeowners should hire a third-party lab or tester to collect the sample. Such precautions ensure that the water samples retain a "chain of custody" and that they are collected in the proper manner by a professional, he said.

The water-testing webinar is part of an overall series targeting the most common water questions and concerns people have about water resources on their own property, whether those are water wells, septic systems or ponds. The series will discuss water-resource types, what kinds of threats exist to water supplies, and how property owners can manage them.

Participants must pre-register for the webinars, but only one registration is required for the entire series. To register, visit http://water.cas.psu.edu/webinars.htm. Once participants have pre-registered, they may visit this Web site on the day of the presentation and simply click on the link with the title of that day's webinar.

Penn State Cooperative Extension Water Webinars are held the last Wednesday of each month from January until May and will air at noon and 7 p.m. on each date. Dates, topics and presenters for the 2010 series include:

  • -- Jan. 27, "Water Testing and Monitoring Strategies Near Gas Drilling Activity," Bryan Swistock, Penn State water resources extension specialist.
  • -- Feb. 24, "Saving Money and Your Septic System through Water Conservation," Tom McCarty, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Cumberland County.
  • -- March 31, "Managing Your Pond or Lake," Susan Boser, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Beaver County.
  • -- April 28, "Safe Drinking Water Clinic," Peter Wulfhorst, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Pike County.
  • -- May 26, "Managing Your On-Lot Septic System," Dana Rizzo, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Westmoreland County.

For more information, contact Bryan Swistock at 814-863-0194, or by e-mail at brs@psu.edu.

Last Updated January 25, 2010