June 12, 2018

Owners of private wells can get their drinking water screened for nitrate at the annual Rigby Stampede Days at Rigby City Park June 23, 2018. The Idaho Rural Water Association will be located at booth #45.

Nitrate is the most widespread contaminant in ground water in Idaho. Nitrate is a chemical form of nitrogen found naturally in small amounts in soil and groundwater. However, some land use practices and human activities may increase nitrate in groundwater to dangerous levels. In areas having shallow depths to ground water, sandy soils or shallow wells, nitrate contamination can easily occur.

Drinking water that contains high levels of nitrate is especially dangerous for infants under the age of 6 months, unborn children, and adults with low stomach acidity.

To participate in the free screening, well owners are advised to do the following before bringing in their water for testing:

  1. 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.
  2. Locate a clean glass jar and lid or Ziploc() baggie to collect the water sample. Label the outside with your name or address, date, and the name of the source (garden well, house well, etc.).
  3. 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.
  4. Fill the container with approximately one cup of water (8 oz.).
  5. Keep the sample cool until tested. IRWA will test on site for nitrate and the results are immediate.

For more information, contact Melinda Norris at 208-761-4118 or e-mail For information about a free online class offered for private well owners nationwide, visit

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