Well owners are encouraged to periodically test their drinking water even though such tests can cost as much as $150. The state’s free well water testing events help save consumers money while educating on safe drinking water.
“The Environment Department provides the advice and assistance that New Mexicans need to ensure that clean drinking water is available,” Environment Secretary Butch Tongate said. “Our water fair testing events are conducted throughout the state, at no cost, to encourage participation, heighten awareness, and to educate private well owners about safe, clean, drinking water.”
The free well water tests will be available at the performance space at La Tienda, 7 Caliente Road, in Santa Fe from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday March 10 and March 17. Tests will be offered on a first‐come, first‐served basis to the first 200 participants, or while supplies are available. Test results will be mailed to households following the event.
This money‐saving opportunity is the chance for Santa Fe County area households to check pH, specific conductance, and the levels of fluoride, iron, sulfate, and nitrate in their well water. These constituents may be naturally occurring or result from sources including fertilizer, animal waste, and septic tanks. Drinking water with high levels of nitrate can be dangerous to pregnant women and infants, while other contaminants may lead to aesthetic nuisances and other health problems.
Additionally, well owners will be able to check the arsenic level in their water, which is not commonly included in the state’s general testing. Arsenic is naturally occurring and has been measured in water from private wells throughout the state, sometimes at concentrations that exceed recommended drinking water quality health standards.
About 20 percent of New Mexicans receive their drinking water from private wells, which are the responsibility of the private well owner. While the state’s Environment and Health Departments conduct free private well testing events called “Water Fairs,” to help educate private well owners about safe drinking water; these state agencies do not have jurisdiction over New Mexicans’ private wells.
“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. According to survey responses, most private well owners in New Mexico do not use any sort of water treatment system, so it’s especially important for those well owners to understand what is in their well water,” said Matthew Smith of the Environment Department’s Ground Water Quality Bureau. “Most New Mexicans surveyed have never had their well water tested before or are not sure if they have done so, which makes this outreach activity critical.”
To have water tested, residents need to bring a sample of their water to the event. The departments suggest:
- Fill a clean glass or plastic container, without any strong odors, with at least a quart or liter of your well water.
- Collect the water before it runs through any water treatment or filters such as an R.O., a carbon filter, or a water softener. If the home has a whole house filtration system, collect the water at the well head.
- Let the water run for a couple of minutes before collecting the sample.
- Fill the container with the water as close to the time of testing as possible.
Along with the water sample, residents should bring basic information known about the well such as well depth, depth to water, well casing material (i.e., steel, pvc), well latitude/longitude, and distance from well to the nearest septic tank/leachfield system.
If well owners are unable to attend the event but would like to have their water tested, they may have their sample brought to the event by a family member or neighbor as long as the bottle is clearly labeled with their name, phone number, and address and information about the well is attached. The departments will only test water that comes from homes that rely on private wells for drinking water.
For further information about this water testing opportunity, please contact the Environment Department at 505.827.2797.