NMED, DOH offer free home well tests in Socorro

The New Mexico Department of Environment and the New Mexico Department of Health will host a free domestic well water testing event at the Socorro Farmers Market on April 9.

The survey showed that most private water well users in New Mexico have not had water testing, although most do not have water treatment systems installed.

In an effort to save consumers money — testing is worth about $150 — and educate the public about safe drinking water, the NMED and DOH are hosting free well water testing events while adhering to COVID-safe practices to protect workers and all participating communities member.

This event provides well owners an opportunity to measure pH, specific conductivity and nitrate levels in their water. These components may be naturally occurring or may come from sources such as fertilizers, animal manure, and septic tanks. Drinking water high in nitrates can be dangerous for pregnant women and babies. Other pollutants may cause other health problems and aesthetic nuisances.

The water will also be tested for arsenic levels. Arsenic occurs naturally and has been measured in water from private wells across the state, sometimes in concentrations exceeding health standards for drinking water quality.

Maintenance of private wells is the responsibility of the well owner. While the state’s Department of Environment and Health holds water fairs to help educate private well owners about drinking water and well maintenance, these state agencies have no jurisdiction over private wells.

Free testing will be held at the Socorro Farmers Market at the Socorro County Youth Center at 1002 Ake Ave on Saturday, April 9 from 9-11 am.

Tests will be offered to the first 100 participants on a first-come, first-served basis or subject to availability. Test results will be mailed to families after the event.

For water testing, residents will need to bring water samples to the event. Use these guidelines to ensure proper sample collection:

  • Let the water flow for 2-3 minutes before collecting the sample.
  • Fill a clean glass or plastic container with at least a quart or liter of well water without any strong odor.
  • If the home has a whole-house filtration system, if possible, collect water from the wellhead before any filtration or softening system.
  • Fill the container with water as close to the test time as possible.

In addition to water samples, residents should bring basic information about the well, such as well depth, water depth, well casing material (i.e. steel, PVC), latitude and longitude of the well, and distance from the well to the nearest septic tank or leach field system.

If well owners are unable to attend the event but want to have their water tested, they can ask family members or neighbors to bring samples to the event, provided the bottle is clearly marked with the owner’s name, phone number, address, and good information. Only water from households that rely on private wells for drinking water will be tested. Test results will be mailed to families after the event.

The average well water test costs about $150 for a home, but it’s completely free at this event.

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