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When it comes to the quality of the water many Newtown residents draw from their home wells, it may be comforting to know that proving their water is as good (or bad) as it tastes is only minutes away.
That is because Newtown is home to Aqua Environmental Lab, a trusted source of information and analysis for local home and business owners, as well as the municipality itself. Located on the corner of Church Hill and Commerce Roads, owner Thomas Braun and his modest staff including technician Karin Helsel and office manager Gisele Davis are ready to assist anyone looking to determine what is in their well water, or any standing body of water on their property.
Between Mr Braun and Ms Helsel, the two scientists at Aqua Environmental Lab have more than 49 years of shared experience. Mr Braun, who has expertise in both biology and chemistry, opened the lab 27 years ago, and his work shows no sign of slowing down.
On a recent visit with Newtown Health District Director Donna Culbert, she explained the important role the lab could play in both the individual health of homeowners and their families, but for the entire community.
“The Health District is a promoter of informed decisions,” Ms Culbert told The Newtown Bee. “We encourage residents to know more so they can own their actions, decisions, and lifestyle choices — whether it’s reading labels on food products, reviewing information before purchasing a property, researching a particular health issue with a health care provider or reliable sources, and in this case, testing their water.”
Just as many people are interested in the quality of their food and where it comes from, Ms Culbert and many of her colleagues in public health believe it is important to know what is, or isn’t, in their water.
“For the thousands of homes served by private water supply wells in Newtown, a water test can tell them if their water is safe and if there are any protective steps they should take to keep it that way,” she said.
According to a fact sheet from the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Private Well Section (ct.gov/dph/privatewells), water test results that the Health District periodically becomes aware of include the presence of coliform (an indicator of bacteria), elevated levels of naturally occurring elements like iron and manganese, low pH, hardness, radon and uranium, and volatile organic compounds that could come from the presence of gasoline or other solvents.
Fortunately, many water quality issues can be resolved at the well or building served, such a chlorinating a well system after its been flooded with coliform. For issues that go beyond that, a treatment system to remove or minimize contaminants may be the solution.
“But like the food we eat, we need to know what is, or isn’t, in the water we drink and consume before we know it’s safe — and if there is anything we need to do to improve it,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have a local lab here in town, Aqua Environmental, which makes for easy access to this service and to professionals who have a long track record of knowing about Newtown’s water quality.”
As part of National Groundwater Awareness Week back in March, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) continued its practice of reminding Connecticut residents with private wells to consider testing their wells to ensure safe water quality.
According to the DPH, approximately 23 percent — nearly a quarter of Connecticut residents — or roughly 820,000 people rely on private wells as their source of household water.
Sponsored by the National Ground Water Association, National Groundwater Awareness Week stresses the importance of groundwater to people’s health and the environment.
Since homeowners with private wells use groundwater every day for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, agriculture, cooling, and heating, spring is an optimal time to perform an annual well water checkup before peak water use season begins.
Proper maintenance of a well water system is essential to protecting water quality, the DPH says.
Private well owners should consider taking a few steps to inspect their wells for structural problems, protect from contamination, and most importantly, test for water quality.
Besides drinking water analysis, Aqua Environmental Lab personally oversees and tests samples for homeowners, business owners, municipalities, realtors, and home inspectors, providing quality and accurate results for waste water, radon, and other types of sample collection. The lab is National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC) Accredited and is licensed in Connecticut and New York.
Aqua Environmental Lab provides necessary water testing and analysis for towns’, municipalities’, and private clients’ compliance with their DEEP permits by providing wastewater and storm water, lake and pond testing, along with monitoring municipal wells.
For more information and resources on well inspection, testing, contaminants, and treatment options, please visit DPH’s Private Well Program website at.ct.gov/dph/privatewells