WVU Extension Services is collaborating with another well-known university to educate West Virginians on their private water suppliers and gas well drilling.
Across the nation, 1/4 of private drinking water sources have never been tested. That's according to officials from the Penn State Extension Service, who came to Marion County Monday night to improve that statistic and help people understand the regulations and testing of their private wells.
"That's actually one of the big things, people don't understand what is already wrong with their water supplies, and they sometimes find that out as they're getting prepared for the gas drilling and start to do testing for it," said Bryan Swistock, a water research specialist from Penn State Extension.
"People are questioning, with the drilling in the area, if it's going to affect their wells and what they need to do to protect them," said John Murray of the WVU Extension Service.
John Bird is one of those people. Bird said he lives a few miles from the site of a proposed injection site in Preston County and is concerned about any potential issues that may be caused from those sites or Marcellus Shale drilling.
"Some of the Marcellus Shale, and I believe some of the injection wells, have damaged ground water. And once your ground water goes, you're in big trouble, unless you're close enough to a city to get city water," said Bird.
Swistock said some of the chemicals used in fracking to keep gas wells clean are controversial. He recommends testing private wells and springs every year for certain types of bacteria and every three years for additional pollutants.
"[Look for] sediment in the water, or spurting faucets, anything that's out of the ordinary," said Swistock.
Some residents said they'll be on the lookout.
"Should there be a leak, it could run into Deckers Creek, and millions of dollars of work cleaning up at Deckers Creek area, would be wasted, and then we'll have to start all over again," said Bird.
Officials will be in West Union Tuesday night at the Doddridge County Park Building for a second program. It will begin at 6 p.m.