With a history of compromised water supplies in the region, the attendance of Newton County area private well owners is encouraged at an informational meeting Thursday.

With a history of compromised water supplies in the region, the attendance of Newton County area private well owners is encouraged at an informational meeting Thursday.

The Midwest Assistance Program, with support of an EPA grant, will host meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Lampo Community Center, 500 E. Spring St., Neosho. Presenters will include Kyle Rollins, section chief of the Missouri Geological Survey; Chris and Donna Demery, operators of Letts and Demery Pumps and Drilling; and Delbert Anderson, environmental supervisor with the Newton County Health Department.

“It is for private well owners to get a handle on where their water source is coming from,” Anderson said of the meeting that will educate about types of wells. “They’re going to talk about the water cycle – start to finish on where water comes from – different types of wells, the construction of them.”

Anderson will provide a history of Newton County ground water. He will “talk about Pool Prairie (EPA Superfund) site, FAG Bearing, the mine tailing waste with the cadmium and lead and all that good stuff. You’ve got areas where there’s lead and cadmium that are turning up in the water. That’s the reason you’ve got rural water that’s went in to these areas.”

TCE is another contaminant in county groundwater, a solvent used in aeronautics maintenance that Anderson said leached through unlined lagoons in the Crowder area.

“Out on Quince Road years ago they came up with a water sample that smelled like gasoline,” he shared. “That aquifer has been contaminated, so they put treatment systems on different homes and replaced wells, put in water systems, as well.”

Contaminated with lead and cadmium from previous mining, EPA replaced many wells in the Granby area, Anderson said.

“Basically, they would plug their well if it was high in lead, plug it and they would drill them a new well and case past that first aquifer to keep that contamination out so they would have good water,” he said. “That program has since ended, but those are they types of problems that we deal with in Newton County all the time as far as water.”

An impact map updated each year by EPA shows cadmium-contaminated areas of the county where Anderson said well drillers must case past the first contaminated aquifer to keep from contaminating the second aquifer.

“Wells that were around the $5,000 mark, they’re like $20,000 now in these areas,” he said of drilling costs.

Contractors use the map in their quest to buy property, Anderson said. Many will leave a site alone if in an impact area as increased well costs can be an impediment to selling homes.

Anderson will discuss health department programs on water sampling and provide general information about well maintenance and improving water quality. First and foremost, he said, is to know what type of septic system you have and ensure setbacks to the well are met.

“It’s a good idea to know something about your well, how deep it is, how far it’s cased,” he suggested. “Some of these wells that were done back before like ’95-’96 might have had a stick of casing with them. They stuck that in there to keep the hole round, but they weren’t taking that down like the 80 feet required minimum that you have today, so contamination was able to get in there.”

Anderson strongly recommended against spraying any type of insecticides or weed killer near wells and suggested that well owners use water sampling services of the health department.

“Have it sampled once a year,” he urged. “We sample for e coli and coliform, which are indicator organisms. If you’ve got some contamination getting in from the surface, you’ll probably have an e coli pop up on your test.”

Sampling water for metal contamination should be done annually on wells, Anderson said.

“Because these aquifers will contaminate. That contamination is slow to get here, but once it gets here, it’s extremely slow to leave, too,” he said. “That’s something that they ought to be doing annually just to make sure that they don’t have these contaminants creeping in. If they do, they need to take precautions to take care of it.”