How safe is your drinking water? It's hard to know sometimes. The Friends of the Mad River (FMR) and Vermont Rural Water Association (VRWA) invite the public to an educational forum about drinking water on Monday, April 2, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Waitsfield Elementary School. This forum will provide participants with a clear understanding about where water comes from and how natural features and human activity can affect drinking water quality. Experts in the field will give presentations. Exhibits and hands-on demonstrations will also be available. 

Almost 100 percent of the potable water in the Mad River Valley originates from ground water (drilled wells, dug wells, and springs). Private wells and public water systems throughout the watershed convey groundwater for drinking, bathing, irrigation, and many other activities. To help the community understand how the water system works, Eric Hanson, source protection specialist and hydrogeologist from VRWA, will explain the ways of groundwater and its relationship to surface water. Hanson will also review proper construction of wells and springs.  

Protecting groundwater from pollution and conserving water is important. Liz Royer, Source Protection Specialist from VRWA, will give a presentation on how to prevent pollution and conserve water.  Following these presentations Royer will use a groundwater model that provides a visual understanding of how water flows through the ground and bedrock and how contaminants get into our groundwater.  Hanson will be showing a video taken by a camera going down a bedrock well that shows fractures in bedrock and other important features in deep wells.

Over the years many Valley residents have asked FMR how to test their drinking water, what to test for, and if FMR has any information about groundwater resources in The Valley. In response, FMR is offering private homeowners water quality testing, at a discount, of their drinking water through its Groundwater Assessment Project. FMR will provide sample bottles, transport samples to the lab in Burlington, and subsidize the cost of the test in exchange for the homeowner sharing the data. The purpose of this project is to better understand the groundwater quality in the Mad River Valley and provide data to assist with groundwater mapping. Information obtained from the private well testing results will be anonymously joined with public well data to provide a watershed-level assessment.
The private well tests recommended by the Vermont Department of Health for homeowners are:
1. Inorganic chemicals (IOCs) such as nitrate, chloride, arsenic, copper, iron, lead, manganese, and sodium.  Testing recommended every five years.
2. Gross Alpha Radioactivity screen - Screening for mineral radioactivity such as radium and uranium.  Testing recommended every five years.
3. Total coliform bacteria - soil and intestinal bacteria. Testing recommended every year.
This is the second time the FMR has offered this service and the sampling day is scheduled for May 8 during VT Drinking Water Week.