By Meghan Lene, Agricultural Specialist, Salcha-Delta SWCD|
When is the last time you had your household well water tested? It’s likely that the majority of homeowners have never tested their household drinking water. Drinking water can contain contaminants that are invisible to the naked eye and harmful to human health.
Arsenic is a highly toxic contaminant and a suspected carcinogen which can occur naturally or be released from ore deposits of arsenopyrite, a gold bearing mineral. The EPA has set the arsenic Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) at 10 ppb.
Total Coliform counts give a general indication of the sanitary condition of a drinking water supply. The presence of coliform bacteria could be an indicator of other harmful contaminants threatening you drinking water supply. The presence of E. coli bacteria could indicate fecal contamination from human or animal waste and indicate a structural deficiency in your water system. These bacteria can present a very serious health risk with short-term and long-term health effects. It is a pass/fail test.
Nitrates+nitrites, over a relatively short period of time, can be very dangerous, causing serious illness to infants. Excess nitrates+nitrites could result from overuse of fertilizers (organic or synthetic), confined livestock feeding and composting areas, failing septic systems or inadequate dilution or separation between the septic system and the well. The risk of nitrate+nitrite contamination is greater on sandy/gravely soils with shallow water tables (less than 30 feet). Other areas at risk include: drip irrigation systems without an anti-siphoning valve, uncased wells, and wells without a bentonite seal around the casing (including unsealed wells that are no longer in use). If the nitrate + nitrite result is greater than 1 ppm it is recommended that your water is retested for nitrite alone. EPA has set the nitrate MCL at 10 ppm and the nitrite MCL at 1 ppm.
Following collection, water samples are to be dropped off at the District office. The District will cover the cost of delivery to the lab for analysis. Results will then be mailed from the testing laboratory to both the homeowner and District office.
We are offering this kit at a reduced rate. For a District cooperator (a producer of renewable resources and following a conservation plan), the cost is $60. For all other homeowners, the cost is $90. The regular price for this kit is $150 plus cost of shipping. Payment in full will be due at time of pick-up. Although the kits can be picked up any time from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM during the set clinic dates, homeowners are cautioned to return collected samples to the District office the same day samples were collected to ensure quality samples are submitted on time to the lab for analysis. For instance, if the water samples were taken on June 6, they would need to be brought to the District office by 12:00 PM of the same day.