How to find out if your well water is contaminated

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Ground Water News
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Article courtesy of Matt Standal | March 13, 2014 | 7 KTVB | Shared as educational material

NAMPA — Now, a story you’ll want to pay attention to if you use well water for drinking, cooking and bathing — or if you’re thinking about buying a home in the country.

High levels of pollution are common in water from private wells in southwest Idaho. Agriculture and the area’s volcanic history are two causes.

It’s a fact Diana Alcantar learned the hard way last November.

That’s when Alcantar moved to rural Nampa with her husband and two children. Before closing on their new home on Farmway Road, the couple decided to have their drinking water tested.

The test came back positive for high levels of nitrates and arsenic. Alcantar’s realtor said it was a problem that could be fixed.

“I was in shock and I was panicking, but she said there was ways for us to purify the water and drink it safely,” Alcantar told KTVB.

Experts at Southwest District Health in Nampa help homeowners like Diana test their water.

They can test onsite for dangerous levels of nitrates — chemicals especially harmful to children. To check for other dangerous chemicals, water samples go to the Idaho State Lab.


David Loper is the environmental safety director for Southwest District Health. He says there’s one important fact homeowners should know about water that comes from private wells:

“Private wells aren’t sampled by any regulatory agency, and that people should take the responsiblity to sample what’s in their well and know what’s in their drinking supply.”

The cost for water testing ranges from $16 to $75.

To see how to get your water tested click here.

As for Diana Alcantar, before buying her new house, she asked the seller to install a reverse osmosis water filter.

Both the test and the filter now protect her family.

“Your realtor should ask the previous homeowner – or whoever is selling the house — to do a water test before you purchase the house so there’s no surprises after,” Alcantar said.

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