76% of Blair County residents receive drinking water from public or other water authorities.
Turn on your faucet, shower, or hose bib and water comes out! It’s that easy, right? Not exactly.
Drinking water sources can be vulnerable to pollution or contamination. Water authorities pump water from numerous reservoirs constructed throughout the County, treat the water, and send it off through expansive pipe systems that eventually lead to your home or business. The reservoirs are fed by local streams that are often impacted by stormwater and agricultural runoff. Stormwater comes from our roads, roofs, driveways, and other surfaces and picks up all types of pollution along the way. Thankfully, you’re not drinking unfiltered stormwater. Water authorities use numerous treatment processes to get your water to safe drinking standards. But these processes all cost money. The more polluted the water, the more treatment is needed, and the more money it costs. That cost is reflected in your bill! Protecting your drinking water sources is not just about saving a few bucks. Reservoirs are important recreation, nature, and wildlife areas. If these reservoirs ever become too polluted, it may threaten the availability of clean local drinking water for future generations.
24% of Blair County residents receive drinking water from private wells.
If you receive your water from a well on your property, consider having your water tested annually for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. Though soil can filter out many pollutants, there are others that cannot be filtered. If you notice problems (strange smell, taste, color, or cloudiness) or there are small children or pregnant women in the home, do a home survey around your well:
- is there livestock nearby?
- are pesticides being used on nearby agricultural crops or nurseries?
- do you use lawn fertilizers near the well?
- is your well “downstream” from your own or a neighbor’s septic system?
- is your well located near a road that is frequently salted or sprayed with de-icers during winter months?
- do you or your neighbors dispose of household wastes or used motor oil in the backyard, even in small amounts?
These may be sources of well pollution. Boiling water does not necessarily remove all contamination from your drinking water. If you believe your well is contaminated, contact your local health department and the Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Lab here.
How can you make a difference?
Whether you receive water from a water authority or your own well, everyone has a role in watershed protection and protecting drinking water supplies. By understanding your role and addressing runoff on your property, you can take a big step towards doing your part to secure clean drinking water for you, your neighbors, and your children.
Citizen Involvement in Source Water Protection (Environmental Protection Agency)
The Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Lab provides information on drinking water testing, livestock drinking water, irrigation, and more.