Penn State Extension webinar series to explore topics on private water supplies

June 16, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not regulate private drinking water supplies. As a result, all aspects of managing a private water supply are the homeowner's voluntary responsibility.

A Penn State Extension webinar series, which begins June 24 and continues through Aug. 12, will help rural homeowners address common water supply management problems.

"Approximately 3 million Pennsylvanians — mostly in rural homes and on farms — use a private well, spring or cistern for their drinking water," said Bryan Swistock, extension water resources specialist. "Penn State research has shown that about 40% of private water supplies fail at least one health-based drinking water standard, and many others suffer from aesthetic water quality issues."

There is no fee to take part in the weekly webinars, but preregistration is required. The presentations, which will be held from 1 to 2 p.m., include the following:

--June 24: "The Water Webinar Series: Accessing Well and Spring Information Online" highlights online websites and other tools that owners of private water supplies can use to learn about their water supply. The webinar covers local groundwater conditions, nearby water testing results and how to find a local water well contractor. To register, visit

--July 1: "The Water Webinar Series: Lead and Copper from Corrosive Drinking Water" will describe how copper, lead and corrosivity are tested in drinking water, how frequently they occur above drinking water standards, and how they can be treated in drinking water. To register, visit

--July 8: "The Water Webinar Series: Bacteria in Wells and Springs" will provide advanced information from various research studies. Topics include the frequency of bacterial contamination, the occurrence of animal versus human sources of bacteria, the benefits of sanitary well caps and grout, types of disinfection treatment devices, and common strategies to solve bacteria problems. To register, visit

--July 15: "The Water Webinar Series: Iron, Manganese and Hydrogen Sulfide in Wells" will examine the occurrence of these contaminants across Pennsylvania and how they can be tested and treated in private water supplies. These pollutants occur naturally but also can originate from land-use activities, most notably mining. While they generally are not harmful, they can lead to severe staining and cause sediment, tastes and odors in drinking water. To register, visit

--July 22: "The Water Webinar Series: Roadside and Household Spring Water Issues" will focus on how springs occur and how they differ from drilled water wells. The session will address the prevalence of springs across Pennsylvania and their typical construction when used for household or roadside drinking water supplies. Presenters will explain the common water quality issues in springs and how pollutants can be treated. To register, visit

--July 29: "The Water Webinar Series: Nitrates in Private Water Supplies" will explore the sources of nitrates in groundwater, the drinking water standards for nitrates, and the potential health effects of consuming drinking water with high nitrate levels. Results from Penn State studies of groundwater wells will illustrate the prevalence of nitrates across the commonwealth, and experts will discuss water treatment devices capable of removing nitrate. To register, visit

--Aug. 5: "The Water Webinar Series: Water Treatment Processes for Household Drinking Water" will cover how water treatment devices function, equipment maintenance issues and how to purchase water treatment equipment. Water softeners and sediment filters are the most common devices, but many other treatment technologies are available to remove water contaminants. To register, visit

--Aug. 12: "The Water Webinar Series: Ask the Experts About Drinking Water" will give participants the chance to speak with extension experts. Water specialists will answer concerns about contaminants, tastes or odors, treatment systems, where drinking water comes from, bottled water, roadside springs, and similar questions. Questions can be submitted in advance or asked during the webinar. To register, visit


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Last Updated June 16, 2020