NMED & DOH Offer Free Domestic Water Well Tests In Taos

NMED News:

TAOS — The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) are hosting a free domestic well water testing event Oct. 16 in Taos.

Surveys show the majority of New Mexico’s private well users haven’t had their water tested, even though most do not have water treatment systems installed.

To save consumers money – tests are valued at around $150 – and to educate the public about safe drinking water, NMED and DOH are hosting a free well water testing event Oct. 16 while adhering to COVID-Safe Practices to protect staff and all community members who participate.

“With 20 percent of New Mexicans using private water wells, our free water testing events are a great opportunity for private well owners to learn more about what is in their water and how to keep it safe and clean,” NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said. “I encourage Taos County residents to come out and participate.”

The free testing will be available:

8-12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Taos Farmers Market, Taos Plaza, Taos, NM 87571.

Tests will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 100 participants or while supplies are available. Test results will be mailed to households following the event. 

To have water tested, residents need to bring a sample of their water to the event. Use these guidelines to ensure the sample is collected correctly:

  • Let the water run for 2-3 minutes before collecting the sample.
  • Fill a clean glass or plastic container without any strong odors with at least a quart or liter of your well water.
  • If the home has a whole house filtration system, collect the water at the well head prior to any filtration or softener systems if possible.
  • Fill the container with 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 and longitude and distance from the well to the nearest septic tank or leachfield system. 

If well owners are unable to attend the event but would like to have their water tested, they may have a family member or neighbor bring their sample to the event, provided the bottle is clearly labeled and has the owner’s name, phone number, address and well information attached. Only water that comes from homes that rely on private wells for drinking water will be tested.

The state’s “water fairs” provide an opportunity for well owners to measure pH, specific conductance and levels of nitrates in their 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. Other contaminants may lead to other health problems and aesthetic nuisances. 

Water will also be tested for arsenic levels. Arsenic is naturally occurring and has been measured in water from private wells throughout the state, sometimes at concentrations that exceed drinking water quality health standards.

The upkeep of private wells is the responsibility of the well owner. While the state’s Environment and Health Departments conduct water fairs to help educate private well owners about drinking water and well maintenance, these state agencies do not have jurisdiction over private wells. 

Water from public water systems (i.e., local water utilities) is tested periodically and those results are available here.

More information about the water fair program is available here.

More information about wells, water quality and safety is available here. 

For more information about these water fairs, please contact the Environment Department at 505.827. 2900. Visit NMED’s calendar, here, to find out about future water fairs and other events.

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