A Jan. 7 Associated Press article highlighted outbreaks of salmonella poisoning that have spread across 42 states and put one of five infected people in the hospital.Just as eating uncooked or raw meats may cause illness, so can drinking raw untreated well water.

A recent assessment of water testing results performed in Suburban Water Testing Labs, 4600 Kutztown Road, Temple, during 2008 revealed that 12.82 percent of well water tested for harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, yielded a contamination presence.

That's about one in eight, which shouldn't be ignored by homeowners. The presence of bacteria indicates the water supply is unsafe. Drinking raw untreated well water with this result may cause illness.

Sources of this well water contamination include human or animal fecal matter and surface water run-off that contacts soil and enters the well.

Broken or missing well caps, including small cracks in the well casing and pipes can allow this contamination to reach the water supply.

Well owners can find out if they have bacteria by testing with a certified laboratory. To remove harmful bacteria including Salmonella and E.coli from your water supply, simply boil water for one minute at a rolling boil as a temporary measure. Long term, a treatment system such as a UV light can be installed in the home, and annual testing should be done to ensure the system is working. Filters do not remove harmful bacteria.

Submitted by Sara Kuzma, of Suburban Water Testing Labs, 4600 Kutztown Road, Temple. For more information call, 610-929-3666 or e-mail skuzma@h2otest.com. Visit www.h2otest.com.

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