Now the safety of private water wells is being called into question in Arkansas.   

“We don’t recommend that people drink water with E. coli in it under any circumstances. There’s no safe level of E. coli as far as we’re concerned,” says Ed Barum.

Barum, with the State Health Department, spoke with KTHV-TV in Little Rock.   The State Health Department tests water samples for  private well owners. 

Results show counties in northwest Arkansas have the highest number of contaminated wells.

Benton County has 85 wells have testing positive for E. coli. Other counties, however, have a higher percentage of contaminated wells. In Conway County, for example, testing of 84 wells came back with 28 positive for one E. Coli strain or another.

Owners of wells with bad water are told to install a chlorination or filtration system. Barum says the Health Department will help ” find a solution that will work for them in their particular area with their particular well.”

KTHV speculates that the high concentration of contaminated wells in northwest Arkansas could be due to bacteria  the great number of chicken farms in the area.

However Barum told the station that , “There’s not a good way to say this is the cause. There’s not a good way for us to say in northwest Arkansas the cause for private drinking well water is chicken farming or pig farming or cattle farming. That’s just not possible right now with what we know.”

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