SHOSHONE, Idaho (KLIX)- Well users in the Magic Valley will be able to have their water tested for free if they take it to the Lincoln County Fair at the end of July. The Idaho Department of  Environmental Quality has teamed up with the Idaho Rural Water Association to offer free nitrate screening for private well owners during the fair in Shoshone Thursday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to the DEQ nitrate is the most widespread contaminant in ground water within the state. It is found naturally in small amounts in soil and ground water. But, contamination can be increased depending on land use and human activity. Drinking water with high nitrate levels can be dangerous for young children under the age of 6 months, unborn children, and adults with low stomach acidity.

Here are the DEQ guidelines for anyone who want their water tested next week:

To participate in the free screening, well owners are advised to do the following on the morning of July 28:

  • Identify a source that is not connected to a treatment device (water softener, carbon filter, or other filtration system). An outside faucet or hydrant works best.
  • Locate a clean glass jar and lid or Ziploc bag to collect the water sample. Label the outside with your name or address, date, and well name (garden well, house well, etc.).
  • Allow the water to run 5-10 minutes to empty the pressure tank so water comes directly from the aquifer. Doing so will lead to more accurate results.
  • Fill the container with approximately one cup of water.
  • Keep the sample cool. DEQ will dip a test strip into the water, which will indicate if nitrate is present.

For more information, contact Irene Nautch at DEQ's Twin Falls Regional Office at (208) 736-2190 or e-mail irene.nautch@deq.idaho.gov. For information about free online classes and webinars offered for well owners nationwide, visit www.privatewellclass.org.