State of­fers free well test­ing at two events

Re­sults will mea­sure wa­ter’s acid­ity, ni­trates, ar­senic and other con­tam­i­nants

Santa Fe New Mexican - - LOCAL & REGION - By Scott Wy­land swyland@sfnewmex­i­can.com

Pri­vate well users in Santa Fe and Es­pañola can get their wa­ter tested at no charge this week­end.

The wa­ter test­ing will be of­fered Fri­day af­ter­noon in Es­pañola and Satur­day morn­ing in Santa Fe dur­ing events hosted by the state En­vi­ron­ment Depart­ment and Depart­ment of Health.

Sur­veys show most well users haven’t tested their wa­ter, even though most have no wa­ter treat­ment sys­tems.

“With 20 per­cent of New Mex­i­cans us­ing pri­vate wa­ter wells, our free wa­ter test­ing events are a great op­por­tu­nity for pri­vate well own­ers to learn more about what is in their wa­ter and how to keep it safe and clean,” En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary James Ken­ney said in a state­ment. “Ac­cess to clean wa­ter dur­ing the pan­demic is crit­i­cal.”

Res­i­dents must bring a sam­ple of their well wa­ter and fol­low these guide­lines for col­lect­ing and pre­par­ing it:

◆ Let the wa­ter run for two to three min­utes.

◆ Fill a clean glass or plas­tic con­tainer with at least a quart or liter of your well wa­ter.

◆ If you have a house­hold fil­tra­tion sys­tem, col­lect the wa­ter at the well­head be­fore it runs through any fil­tra­tion or soft­ener sys­tems.

◆ Fill the con­tainer with wa­ter as close to the time of test­ing as pos­si­ble.

Own­ers should bring ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing the well’s depth, the casing ma­te­rial, such as steel or PVC, along with the well’s lat­i­tude, lon­gi­tude and dis­tance to the near­est sep­tic tank or leach field.

Those who are un­able to at­tend the event can have a fam­ily mem­ber or neigh­bor bring a sam­ple, pro­vided the bot­tle is clearly la­beled and has the owner’s name, phone num­ber, ad­dress and the well in­for­ma­tion at­tached.

Tests will be of­fered on a first-come, first-served ba­sis to the first 150 par­tic­i­pants at each event or while sup­plies last. Test re­sults will be mailed to house­holds.

Those who at­tend an event must ad­here to coro­n­avirus pre­cau­tions, such as wear­ing masks and so­cial dis­tanc­ing, to pro­tect staff and other par­tic­i­pants.

These events of­fer well own­ers a chance to mea­sure pH, ni­trates and other con­tam­i­nants in their wa­ter. The el­e­ments may be nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring or come from fer­til­iz­ers, an­i­mal waste or sep­tic tanks.

Wa­ter with high lev­els of

ni­trate can be dan­ger­ous to preg­nant women and in­fants.

Wa­ter also will be tested for ar­senic, a toxin that is nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring and has been found in pri­vate wells through­out the state — some­times in con­cen­tra­tions that ex­ceed health stan­dards for drink­ing wa­ter.

State agen­cies have no ju­ris­dic­tion over pri­vate wells, so main­tain­ing them is the own­ers’ re­spon­si­bil­ity. Test­ing is de­signed to as­sist own­ers in the up­keep.

“Well test­ing is crit­i­cal, as pri­vate well char­ac­ter­is­tics can vary greatly from one well to the next, even if the wells are right next to one an­other,” said Matthew Smith, a geo­sci­en­tist with the En­vi­ron­ment Depart­ment’s Ground Wa­ter Qual­ity Bureau.

IF YOU GO

Free well wa­ter test­ing will be avail­able:

◆ From 3 to 6 p.m. Fri­day at the state En­vi­ron­ment Depart­ment’s field of­fice in Es­pañola, 712 La Joya St.

◆ From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Satur­day at the Harold L. Run­nels Build­ing, 1190 St. Fran­cis Drive, in Santa Fe.

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