With a rise in temperatures and an increase in stormwater flooding, it’s more important than ever for area residents with wells to monitor their water quality. Old or infrequently-maintained wells are particularly vulnerable to contamination by floodwaters, according to the Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).
“Many common water contaminants lack any smell, taste, or visible characteristics, so the only way to ensure the quality of your water supply is to have it tested,” emphasized Samantha LaRocca, well test program manager for the nonprofit RHA.
For decades, RHA has offered well water testing at a discounted rate from a state-certified laboratory. Public health officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, and local health departments recommend testing well water annually for coliform bacteria. As a baseline, testing for coliform bacteria and nitrates will indicate how sanitary the water supply is.
In addition, RHA offers a variety of tests for other common well water contaminants, including arsenic, lead, volatile organic compounds, radon, and gross alpha.
RHA’s newest test on the menu is PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). More commonly known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS is a class of chemicals that has been in use since the 1940s. They are present in non-stick cookware, water-repellant clothing, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, firefighting foams, and other substances.
PFAS are resistant to breaking down and will remain in the environment for years. If they enter the drinking water supply, they can be harmful to human health and have been associated with cancer, liver damage, developmental effects, fertility, and thyroid issues.
Testing in Local Communities
Each year, RHA partners with municipalities across the Upper Raritan River Watershed to make testing more accessible and convenient by holding “Community Well Test” events.
“If you live in or near a municipality holding an event, we encourage you to come and purchase a kit,” LaRocca said. “If you have not tested your water in many years, this is a perfect opportunity to meet the team and ask any questions you may have.”
This fall, eight communities are on the itinerary for RHA’s Community Well Testing events.
“Our community testing events are open to everyone,” said Julia Cook, well test program assistant. “Whether you test your well every year or have never tested before, if you use a private well and have a concern, please come see us.”
Residents living in homes built before 1987— whether they have a public or private water supply — are encouraged to test for lead contamination from old pipes and plumbing fixtures.
“Community engagement is a critical part of RHA’s mission as a watershed watchdog,” LaRocca said. “Well testing events give us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with homeowners, building a personal relationship between residents and the non-profit. Raritan Headwater’s Well Test Program takes pride in being a local resource that provides our community with the tools and knowledge to make informed decisions that will ensure the health and safety of their drinking water.”
Community well testing events will be held in the following towns throughout September to November:
Raritan Township – Monday, Sept. 25, through Friday, Oct. 6, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (weekdays), at the Raritan Township Municipal Building, 1 Municipal Drive, Flemington;
Chester Township – Saturday, Sept. 30, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Chester Township Municipal Building, 1 Parker Road, Chester;
Mendham Township and Mendham Borough – Saturday, Oct. 7, 9 a.m. to noon, 2 West Main Street, Brookside;
Readington Township – Saturday, Oct. 14; Tuesday, Oct. 17; Wednesday, Oct. 18; and Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Readington Municipal Building and Three Bridges Fire Co. (times and locations vary; see RHA website for details);
Hillsborough Township – Saturday, Oct. 21, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Hillsborough Municipal Complex, 379 S Branch Rd, Hillsborough;
Tewksbury Township – Monday, Oct. 23, through Tuesday, Oct. 31, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (weekdays), at the Tewksbury Township Administration Building, 169 Old Turnpike Road, Califon;
Kingwood Township – Saturday, Nov. 4, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Kingwood Township Municipal Building, 599 Oak Grove Road, Frenchtown.
Filled water sample bottles must be returned on a designated morning the week following the event. Details on each event, a full menu of testing options, and the option to preregister online may be found at www.TestMyWell.org.
Test kits may also be purchased at an RHA office year-round and can be customized to fit each well owner’s testing needs. Orders may be placed by phone or through the RHA website and then picked up at the organization’s offices located in Bedminster or Flemington.
For more information on the Well Test Program and the menu of available tests, contact LaRocca at (908) 234-1852, ext. 401 or email: email@example.com.