State offers free well testing at two events
Results will measure water’s acidity, nitrates, arsenic and other contaminants
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.