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Free Nitrate Testing to be Offered for Owners of Private Wells at Magic Valley Health Fair Oct. 17

Wednesday, October 14, 2015  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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TWIN FALLS — Owners of private wells can have their drinking water tested for nitrate at the Magic Valley Health Fair, Saturday, October 17.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) staff will provide free nitrate testing from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the College of Southern Idaho Health Sciences and Human Services Building on North College Road.

Nitrate is the most widespread contaminant in Idaho ground water. Nitrate is a chemical form of nitrogen found naturally in small amounts in soil and ground water. However, some land use practices and human activities may increase nitrate in ground water to dangerous levels. In areas with shallow depths to ground water, sandy soils, or shallow wells, nitrate contamination can easily occur.

Drinking water that contains high levels of nitrate is especially dangerous for infants under the age of 6 months, unborn children, and adults with low stomach acidity.

To participate in the free testing, well owners are advised to do the following on the morning of October 17:

  • Identify a source that is not connected to a treatment device (water softener, carbon filter, or other filtration system). An outside faucet or hydrant works best.
  • Locate a clean glass jar and lid or Ziploc bag to collect the water sample. Label the outside with your name or address, date, and well name (garden well, house well, etc.).
  • Allow the water to run 5-10 minutes to empty the pressure tank so water comes directly from the aquifer. Doing so will lead to more accurate results.
  • Fill the container with approximately one cup of water.
  • Keep the sample cool until tested. DEQ will test it on site for nitrate and provide you with the results.

For more information, contact Irene Nautch at DEQ's Twin Falls Regional Office at (208) 736-2190 or e-mail For information about a free online class offered for well owners nationwide,

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