Evaluation of household water quality in Brunswick and Nottoway Counties, Virginia

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Virginia Cooperative Extension

During Spring 2000 in Brunswick and Nottoway Counties, Virginia, programs of household water quality education, which included water sampling, testing, and diagnosis, were conducted. Participation in the water quality programs was made available to any resident of these two counties who utilized a private, individual water supply. During the course of the projects, 115 households submitted water samples which were analyzed for iron, manganese, hardness, sulfate, chloride, fluoride, total dissolved solids, pH, saturation index, copper, sodium, nitrate, and total coliform and E. coli bacteria. These analyses identified the major household water quality problems in these two counties as iron/manganese, corrosivity, and bacteria.

Following completion of the programs, a survey was mailed to the 115 participants. Fifty-seven participants returned survey forms on which they identified their reason(s) for participating in such a program; the primary reason was concern about safety of their water supply. Returned survey forms also provided insight into measures participants had already taken, or planned to take, to improve the quality of their water supply. Two-thirds of the households who reported having at least one water quality problem had taken, or planned to take, at least one measure to improve the quality of their water supply. Fourteen percent or more of all participants had taken, or planned to take, one or more of the following actions: shock chlorinate the water system, use bottled water drinking/cooking, and temporary disinfection, such as boiling water.