A different New Year’s resolution
For the Nevada Appeal
Often at New Year’s we resolve to get healthy, to work out more and eat less. I have a different resolution to suggest. If you are on a well or have a septic system, resolve to have your water quality checked and septic maintenance done.
Water from private wells is not monitored for quality by government agencies. You are responsible for the safety of the drinking water you and your family use. Water testing helps ensure that it is safe.
A broad-range water test, such as the routine domestic analysis performed by the Nevada State Health Laboratory, should be done every five to 10 years. Additionally, test well water quality every year for nitrate, pH, total dissolved solids and total coliform bacteria. Test more frequently if levels of these standards are close to the drinking water standards.
You should also test your water if it tastes or smells bad, is cloudy or discolored, leaves a scaly residue or discolors plumbing or laundry. Test your water if your water heater or plumbing wears out quickly or if you are thinking of purchasing water treatment equipment. Recurring stomach problems may indicate a water problem. If you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or have an infant less than 6 months old, test your water. A livestock area close to your well is a good reason to test regularly.
Water may be analyzed by the Nevada State Health Laboratory (775-688-1335) or private labs. Choose a lab certified by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (http://ndep.nv.gov/bwqp/lab/labservice.htm). To get an accurate water test, you must take the sample correctly, and store and ship it properly. Contact the lab for the proper procedure and form. For more information, go to our website, http://www.unce.unr.edu, and look for Special Publication -00-20 “Water Testing for Private Well Owners” by Donaldson, Courtois and Walker.
To maintain a septic system, the tank must be pumped. How often you pump depends on the size of the tank and the number of people in the house. It is necessary to pump your system even if you are careful with what goes down the drain. Do you know where your tank is, how big it is, when it was last pumped and the location of your leach field? For more information, see our website for Fact Sheet-06-49 “What to Do About Septic Systems” by Donaldson and Hefner. Or, call me at 887-2252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year!
• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at email@example.com or 887-2252.