2007-11-14 / Front Page

ATTENTION well owners!

Private well owners in Southwest Georgia may be getting a taste of the record drought parching much of the state.

"People who draw their water from wells should be on the lookout for changes in color, taste and odor in their water supply," said Southwest District Environmental health director Dewayne Tanner. "They should also be practicing water conservation like those on community water supplies."

The region's severe, sustained drought is affecting underground water sources, including Southwest Georgia's deep aquifers.

"The groundwater that supplies wells also feeds streams, lakes and rivers. With less surface water available, greater strains are being put on subterranean water sources," Early County Health Dept. Environmentalist Mark Gibbs explained.

And shrinking groundwater may become contaminated, Gibbs pointed out. "Conservation can decrease the potential for contamination by bacteria and chemicals that could affect well water quality and the health of those who drink it," he said. "During a drought, water may tem- porarily change color, odor and taste."

The changes will not necessarily affect human health adversely.

"However, well owners who notice a change in their water quality should consult with their local health department and have their water tested," Tanner said.

Individual well owners are responsible for testing their own water and making sure it is safe to drink. Well water should be tested at least once a year.

The Environmental Protection Division does not regulate private wells drawing less than 100,000 gallons of water a day and people who use them are not subject to the state's outdoor water restrictions.

"However, we are all experiencing dry conditions, so we encourage all water users to comply with the outdoor water use schedule," said Tanner.

He described water conservation as more than a response to drought. "Scientific studies have proven water conservation to be the most economical and environmentally friendly way of meeting water supply needs," Tanner said.

Information about Georgia's drought and water conservation are available online at www.caes.uga.edu/topics/di sasters/drought and www.conservewatergeorgia. net.

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