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Free private well testing offered in Lower Valley

Free nitrate and coliform tests for owners of private and shared wells is part of an ongoing effort to help residents in the Lower Yakima Valley learn more about the water quality and impact to public health of the area’s drinking water.

The effort is a partnership of the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Advisory Com-mittee and the Yakima Health District.

To participate, households must be served by a private or shared well within the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area, and be willing to take part in a well assessment survey.

An environmental health specialist from the Yakima Health District will complete both the well assessment survey and take the samples from the wells.

The visit will take about 30 minutes at most, and all of the information, including well water test results, will be made available to the households.

The information collected will help the groundwater committee understand the conditions that exist around the wells and how to best help the residents. The survey is not intended to collect personal data for any other purpose.

 To learn more about the program and to set up an appointment to participate, local residents should call the Yakima Health District help desk at 509-249-6508.

Appointments can be scheduled right now. Any concerns about water quality, sample results or the site survey will be explained to the participants, with sample results expected to be completed by March 2014.

Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliott is chair of the groundwater committee, and he notes that the groundwater concerns and testing don’t apply to all households in the Lower Valley.

“Not all water supplies in the area have been impacted. Public water systems in the area maintain safe and reliable drinking water supplies,” Elliott said.

He continued, “However, many of the homes in the Lower Yakima Valley are served by private or shared wells, and there is enough data to suggest that many of these wells are at risk from surface contaminants.”

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