HARRISVILLE — Six counties in the region will have the opportunity to test drinking water at an upcoming event coordinated by West Virginia University.
So far, residents of Marion, Harrison and Tyler counties have received test kits during an information session on water quality. Doddridge, Ritchie and Wetzel County community members will have opportunities in the coming weeks.
The program is offered by the Institute for Water Security and Science and the Interdisciplinary Hydrology Laboratory at West Virginia University, which is possible thanks to funding, said postdoctoral research associate Kaylyn Gootman.
“We really wanted to develop a free drinking water testing program and community outreach to discuss the importance of human health and environmental quality,” she says.
“We got some grant money[that]gave us money to support this project. Our goal is to target six counties in north-central West Virginia.”
Gutman said 42 percent of the state’s population depends on well water, which is three times higher than the national average.
“Well water is not protected by the Safe Drinking Water Act and it is the owner’s responsibility to test the water and maintain the well. We understand that not many people know this,” she says.
The events will include a two-hour workshop where information will be shared and people will have the opportunity to ask questions.
“We want to learn from different communities and different people. We want to understand perceptions of drinking water, which is important for researchers,” Gutman said. “They will leave our program with test kits to collect water samples (and a) prepaid postage kit.”
Samples will be mailed to the laboratory and tested with 55 to 60 penetrants to assess quality and the results will be sent back.
“We’re not there to tell them what they need to do. It’s just for them to have the information and be empowered to make decisions for them and their families,” he said. Gutman said.
The Dodridge County event will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Dodridge County Park Main Building. The Ridge County Symposium will be held at the Ridge County Camp 4-H Large Town Hall on March 26th from 10am-noon, and the Taylor County event will be held at the Mollohan Center on April 9th from 10am-noon.
Candice Black can be contacted at email@example.com.