Owners of private wells can get their drinking water screened for nitrate levels at the Payette County Fair this summer.

IRWA and Idaho DEQ staff will provide free nitrate screening at the Payette County Fair.

Nitrate is the most widespread contaminant in groundwater in Idaho. Nitrate is a chemical form of nitrogen found naturally in small amounts in soil and groundwater. However, some land use practices and human activities may increase nitrate in groundwater to dangerous levels. In areas having shallow depths to groundwater, sandy soils, or shallow wells, nitrate contamination an 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 this free event, well owners will be advised to do the following before bringing in their water for 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 baggie 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 (8 oz.).

• Keep the sample cool until screened. IRWA and DEQ will screen on site for nitrate levels and give you the results.

For more information, contact Melinda Norris at (208) 761-4118 or e-mail mnorris@idahoruralwater.com.

For information about a free online-class offered for well owners nationwide, visit www.privatewellclass.org.

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