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Center calls for statewide ground water monitoring

October 21, 2003


According to David Draughon, state water-supply director, of the approximately 2,500 private wells tested last year for coliform bacteria, about 1,000 tested positive.

Dr. Andrew Barrass, director of the Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay, says its time for the state to initiate another ground water monitoring program.

If 1,000 out of 2,500 private wells in Tennessee last year tested positive for coliform bacteria, thats 40 percent contamination–a very high figure, he says.
October 21, 2003


According to David Draughon, state water-supply director, of the approximately 2,500 private wells tested last year for coliform bacteria, about 1,000 tested positive.

Dr. Andrew Barrass, director of the Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay, says it's time for the state to initiate another ground water monitoring program.

“If 1,000 out of 2,500 private wells in Tennessee last year tested positive for coliform bacteria, that's 40 percent contamination—a very high figure,” he says.

This family of bacteria has been known to cause intestinal illness and, in rare cases, kidney problems. However, private wells are typically tested only at the owner's request.
In fact, there is no overall assessment of ground water quality statewide, according to Mike Bradley, assistant district chief of the U.S. Geological Survey office in Nashville. The U.S.G.S. began a statewide ground water monitoring program, which including testing private wells, in 1990. Bradley says the program was cut from the state budget the following year.

Barrass says, “I believe the state should re-initiate a comprehensive ground water monitoring program.”

For two decades, APSU's Center of Excellence for Field Biology has tested, treated and monitored watersheds in Montgomery, Robertson and Henry counties in Tennessee, as well as those in Todd County, Ky.

The Center's expertise has been called upon by agencies such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
Rebecca Mackey