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Facts About Groundwater

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What is groundwater and why is it important to me?Hydrologic Cycle

 

More than two million Marylanders obtain their water from groundwater. Groundwater is created from rain that soaks into the ground, which absorbs it like a sponge. It is a natural resource that is used for drinking, household purposes, irrigation, business and industry needs.

Water that soaks into the ground is filtered as it passes through various layers of sand, clay or rock, before discharging to streams, rivers or the Chesapeake Bay. Too often groundwater is taken for granted because it cannot be seen.

Groundwater is vulnerable to pollution by livestock areas, abandoned mines, salted roads, farming and industrial areas.  Homeowners also contribute to groundwater contamination by dumping household chemicals down the drain if they have a septic system or by pouring them on the ground.

Groundwater contaminated with bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, gasoline, or oil can result in serious human health problems.  Those who consume contaminated groundwater may suffer bacterial diseases, nervous system disorders, liver or kidney failure, cancer or other ailments depending on the contamination.

To protect groundwater be proactive in the upkeep of your home and yard:

  • Limit the amount of fertilizer used on plants.
  • If you own a septic system, service it according to local health department or manufacturer recommendations.
  • If you own a water well, get a yearly maintenance check to ensure sanitary seals are intact.
  • Consider having your water tested every couple of years or if you notice a change in color, odor or taste.
  • Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed.

To protect groundwater make simple changes to your everyday activities:

  • Take shorter showers.
  • Shut off water when brushing your teeth.
  • Run full loads of dishes and laundry.
  • Properly store hazardous household substances like paints, paint thinners, petroleum products, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and cleaning products in secure containers and do not empty hazardous household waste down the drain or the toilet.
  • Mix hazardous household substances over concrete or asphalt where they can be cleaned up or absorbed.

Addtional Information and Related Links:

Contact Information:

John Boris, Geologist, 410-537-3678 or John.Boris@maryland.gov

 http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/researchcenter/factsheets/waterfactsheet/pages/mdgroundwaterawarenessweek.aspx

Nitrates in Drinking Water

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Nitrate in water is undetectable without testing because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. A water test for nitrate is highly recommended for households with infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or elderly people. These groups are the most susceptible to nitrate or nitrite contamination.   Nitrate-nitrogen occurs naturally in groundwater, usually at concentrations far below a level of concern for drinking water safety. An initial test of a new water supply is needed to determine the baseline nitrate concentration.  Therefore, if the water supply has never been tested for nitrate, it should be tested.

In addition to testing for Nitrates you may also want to test for Bacteria.  Bacteriological contamination in water may contribute to an individual’s susceptibility to the presence of nitrate. All drinking water sources also should be tested for bacteriological contamination, particularly if the nitrate-nitrogen level exceeds the 10 mg/L standard. The presence of both nitrate and bacteriological contamination may indicate a poor well location or construction, and possible contamination from surface drainage, feedlots, sewage systems, or some other source.

If you have any questions, or concern about Bacti or Nitrates in your well water, please feel free to give us a call at 301-293-3340. 


Is your water cloudy?

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Cloudy, murky or grayish water is usually caused by dissolved or suspended solids. This is also known as “turbidity.” Water can become turbid naturally or from land disturbances such as construction, storms and urban runoff.

The turbidity of your water can range from low to high. But even if your water looks clear, it could still contain a high level of dissolved solids. That’s why, whether your water is turbid or not, we recommend you have it tested.

Fredericktowne Labs can test your water and give you an answer. 


Protecting Your Ground Water Supply

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Protecting Your Ground Water Supply

When Building, Modifying Or Closing A Well
• Hire a certified well driller for any new well construction or modification
• Slope well area so surface runoff drains away
• When closing a well:
– Do not cut off the well casing below the land surface
– Hire a certified well contractor to fill or seal the well

Preventing Problems
• Install a locking well cap or sanitary seal to prevent unauthorized use of,
or entry into, the well
• Do not mix or use pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, degreasers, fuels, and
other pollutants near the well
• Never dispose of wastes in dry wells or in abandoned wells
• Pump and inspect septic systems as often as recommended by your local
health department
• Never dispose of hazardous materials in a septic system
• Take care in working or mowing around your well

Maintaining Your Well
• Each month check visible parts of your system for problems such as:
– Cracking or corrosion,
– Broken or missing well cap,
– Settling and cracking of surface seals
• Have the well tested once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and other
contaminants
• Keep accurate records in a safe place, including:
– Construction contract or report
– Maintenance records, such as disinfection or sediment removal
– Any use of chemicals in the well
– Water testing results

After A Flood — Concerns And Advisories
• Stay away from the well pump while flooded to avoid electric shock
• Do not drink or wash from the flooded well to avoid becoming sick
• Get assistance from a well or pump contractor to clean and turn on the
pump
• After the pump is turned back on, pump the well until the water runs clear
to rid the well of flood water
• If the water does not run clear, get advice from the county or state health
department or extension service
• For additional information go to http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/
whatdo.htm

For More Info:  

http://www.epa.gov/privatewells/pdfs/household_wells.pdf


Visit from Frederick County Business Development and Retention

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Check out the Blog on Frederick County Business Development and Retention website.

http://discoverfrederickmd.blogspot.com/

Meet Fredericktowne Labs Inc.

 
 

Six Questions with Mary Miller, Ph.D, Owner-President,

Fredericktowne Labs, Inc.

                                                                3020 Ventrie Ct. P.O. Box 245.
                                                                Myersville, MD. 21773
                                                                           301-293-3340
                                                                www.fredericktownelabs.com

What is the nature of your business?

Fredericktowne Labs is a Maryland State certified water quality laboratory.  The lab analyses for contaminants and characteristics of drinking water, natural waters, storm water and wastewater.  The lab also tests for radon in air and water and performs septic system inspections.
 
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business for over 29 years.
 
How many employees do you have?
We currently have 14 employees.
 
Why do you believe you will be successful in Frederick County?
The need for accurate and timely analytical results and other environmental services continues to grow in Frederick County and Fredericktowne Labs is the leading provider of these services.
 
If your company is involved in community outreach, please share with us your involvement.
Fredericktowne Labs has provided informational talks to schools and the real estate community. The lab has also aided students with science fair projects and supports many local organizations. 
 
What are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the reputation that Fredericktowne Labs has achieved for being responsive to the needs of our clients and for providing consistently superior service
 

Meet and Greet with Frederick County Business Development and Retention.
A visit from David Dunn – County Commissioner Liaison, Sherman Coleman – Business Development Specialist, Paul Smith – VP, Board of Commissioners, David Gray -Frederick County Commissioner, Heather Gramm, Director, Regional Growth & Retention, Latrice Lewis – Business & Employment Consultant, Beth Woodring – Senior Consultant, SBTDC Network, Dr. Mary Miller -FTL, Karen Witcraft – FTL, Dan Staley – FTL


Basic Information about Nitrite (Measured as Nitrogen) in Drinking Water

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Information provided by: http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/nitrite.cfm

EPA regulates nitrite in drinking water to protect public health. Nitrite may cause health problems if present in public or private water supplies in amounts greater than the drinking water standard set by EPA.

What is nitrite?
Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds.

Uses for nitrite.
The greatest use of nitrates is as a fertilizer. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted to nitrites.

If you are concerned about nitrate in a private well, please visit:

What are nitrite’s health effects?
Infants below six months who drink water containing nitrite in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome.

This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for nitrite. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with nitrite in drinking water when the rule was finalized.

 

What are EPA’s drinking water regulations for nitrite?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks and exposure over a lifetime with an adequate margin of safety, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG). Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances or matter in water.

The MCLG for nitrite is 1 mg/L or 1 ppm. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable regulation for nitrite, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 1 mg/L or 1 ppm. MCLs are set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies. In this case, the MCL equals the MCLG, because analytical methods or treatment technology do not pose any limitation.

The Phase II Rule, the regulation for nitrite, became effective in 1992. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulation for each contaminant and revise the regulation, if appropriate. EPA reviewed nitrite as part of the Six Year Review and determined that the 1 mg/L or 1 ppm MCLG and 1 mg/L or 1 ppm MCL for nitrite are still protective of human health.

States may set more stringent drinking water MCLGs and MCLs for nitrite than EPA.

 

How does nitrite get into my drinking water?
The major sources of nitrite in drinking water are runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; and erosion of natural deposits.

A federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) requires facilities in certain industries, which manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals. For more information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 424-9346.

 

How will I know if nitrite is in my drinking water?
When routine monitoring indicates that nitrite levels are above the MCL, your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of nitrite so that it is below that level. Water suppliers must notify their customers as soon as practical, but no later than 24 hours after the system learns of the violation. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.

If your water comes from a household well, check with your health department or local water systems that use ground water for information on contaminants of concern in your area.

 

How will nitrite be removed from my drinking water?
The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective for removing nitrite to below 1 mg/L or 1 ppm: ion exchange, reverse osmosis.

 

How do I learn more about my drinking water?
EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect the supply of safe drinking water and upgrade the community water system. Your water bill or telephone book’s government listings are a good starting point for local information.

Contact your water utility. EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called a water quality report) for their customers by July 1 of each year. If your water provider is not a community water system, or if you have a private water supply, request a copy from a nearby community water system.

Other EPA Web sites


Reasons to test your well water

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Reasons to Test Your Water

  • The chart below will help you spot problems. The last five problems listed are not an immediate health concern, but they can make your water taste bad, may indicate problems, and could affect your well long term.

    Conditions or Nearby Activities: Test for:
    Recurring gastro-intestinal illness                   Coliform bacteria

    Household plumbing contains lead                  pH, lead, copper

    Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich                  Radon

    Corrosion of pipes, plumbing                 Corrosion, pH, lead

    Nearby areas of intensive agriculture                 Nitrate, pesticides,         coliform bacteria

    Coal or other mining operations nearby               Metals, pH, corrosion

    Gas drilling operations nearby               Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium

    Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station, or dry-cleaning operation nearby          Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals

    Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks            Volatile organic compounds

    Objectionable taste or smell             Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals

    Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry

                Iron, copper, manganese

     

    Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby              Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium

    Scaly residues, soaps don’t lather              Hardness

    Rapid wear of water treatment equipment             pH, corrosion

    Water softener needed to treat hardness              Manganese, iron

    Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored             Color, detergents