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Free Nitrate Screening in Lewiston - March 17-19

Wednesday, March 15, 2017  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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 Is your well water safe to drink? Public water systems are monitored for harmful contaminants regularly, but if you own your well, this responsibility falls to you.

 The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will offer free nitrate screening to private well owners at the Cat-FM Home & Garden Show Friday, March 17, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Nez Perce County Fair Pavilion in Lewiston.

As 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, but 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, fractured bedrock, or shallow wells, nitrate contamination can easily occur.

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

Well owners are advised to take the following steps on the morning of the screening:

  • 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.
  • Use a clean glass jar and lid or Ziploc bag to collect the water sample. Label the outside with your name or address, and date.
  • Allow the water to run 5-10 minutes to empty the pressure tank so water comes directly from the aquifer, which leads to more accurate results.
  • Fill the container with approximately one cup of water.
  • Keep the sample cool. DEQ will test the water and provide the results to you.

For more information, contact Hailey Shingler or Elizabeth Braker at DEQ's Lewiston Regional Office at (208) 799-4370 or e-mail or For free online classes and webinars offered to well owners nationwide, visit

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