Plans to provide test clean water to Turlockers affected by contaminated wells

A new state grant will help more Turlock residents affected by well water contamination.

The Valley Water Collaborative, a local organization of farmers, businesses and cities, has been offering free well testing services to rural residents since May 2021. Thanks to a new $5.5 million grant from the State Water Control Board and its SAFER/Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund program, VWC now offers more comprehensive water testing and expanded options for treating contaminated wells.

“When we launched the program in May 2021, we only tested oil wells for nitrate contamination,” said VWC executive director Parry Klassen. “While nitrate is a common contaminant in rural wells, residents need to be aware that in Other potential contaminants, such as arsenic and pesticides, were also found in private wells.

“This new partnership with New York State allows us to test domestic water wells for other potential contaminants not previously included in our programs. We can now provide options for water treatment or filtration to ensure people have access to clean drinking water when things are in question.”

The $5.5 million grant also opens the door to more safe water options. Prior to the grant, VWC provided free bottled water to eligible residents when nitrates were identified as a problem. The newly expanded program opens the door to other alternatives, such as home treatment systems that have been shown to be effective against pollutants found in the area, including arsenic, 1,2,3-TCP and DBCP, among others.

Well water program diagram

The Valley Water Collaborative offers free testing of drinking water wells located in semi-rural areas around the cities of the Modesto and Turlock groundwater basins.

More than 600 applications have been received since VWC launched its nitrate testing program in May 2021 Free testing of drinking water wells located in semi-rural areas around the cities of the Modesto and Turlock groundwater basins. In Turlock in particular, there were 339 applications, 159 wells were drawn, and 113 households received bottled drinking water.

Unlike cities, which manage public water systems under strict water sampling and health standards, private household wells are largely unregulated and rely on landowners to ensure water is safe to drink. Because public water systems provide safe water, dwellings connected to these systems are not eligible for the program.

With the expansion scheduled to roll out in mid-March, VWC will notify its 200 existing water recipients that their wells can be tested for additional contaminants for free. In addition, previous project applicants had well tests below nitrate standards.

Rural residents who rely on private wells for drinking water and are interested in learning more about the program and applying can visit the VWC website at www.valleywaterc.org.

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