NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is joining the Tennessee Department of Health to encourage Tennesseans and private water well owners in the state to observe National Ground Water Awareness Week March 11-17.
Sponsored by the National Ground Water Association in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency, National Ground Water Awareness Week highlights the importance of the state’s underground water resources. It also is designed to raise awareness among private water well owners on the importance of yearly testing and proper well maintenance to prevent illness.
“Ground Water Awareness Week is a great time to reinforce the importance of good ground water quality,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “In addition to private water wells, a large percentage of public systems in the state rely on ground water for its drinking water supply. There is something every Tennessean can do to preserve and protect ground water for human and environmental needs.”
According to the Department of Health, at least three outbreaks of waterborne illness related to the consumption of water from a private well or spring have been investigated in Tennessee since 2007. These outbreaks resulted in 16 persons becoming ill. Recommendations to well owners include testing private water supplies annually for bacteria and chemical contaminants. In some areas where karst or limestone geology predominates, filtration through the earth is not effective; continuous purifying treatment such as home filtration, distillers or chlorinating systems are often necessary for drinking water to be reliably free of contamination.
Tennessee contains beautiful streams, rivers and lakes, and protecting the state’s unseen ground water system also is important. Regional aquifers are large bodies of hidden underground water and supply a substantial amount of the state’s public and private drinking water.
Tennesseans can do their part in promoting good stewardship of the state’s ground water by properly maintaining their home septic systems and any abandoned wells they own and through proper storage and the appropriate disposal of hazardous household waste, including common products such as gasoline, oil, paints, fertilizers, pesticides and cleaning products.
The safety requirements for public drinking water systems do not apply to private wells, so it is the responsibility of private water well owners to ensure their water is safe from contaminants.
For more information on the readily available resources for well owners and drillers, please visit the Division of Water Supply’s Web site at: http://www.tn.gov/environment/dws. The Web site contains several program links, including the list of Licensed Tennessee Well Drillers and Installers and the Tennessee Healthy Well Manual.
For questions about ground water protection, please contact TDEC’s Division of Water Supply at (615) 532-0191 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about National Ground Water Awareness Week can also be found on EPA’s Web site at http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/awarenessweek.cfm.