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TWIN FALLS — The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality will offer free nitrate screening and sample bottles for lab testing to private well owners at a health and wellness fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The fair will be at Canyon Crest Event Center, 330 Canyon Crest Drive, Twin Falls.

Nitrate is the most widespread contaminant in Idaho groundwater. It is found naturally in small amounts in soil and groundwater, but some land use practices and human activities may increase nitrate to dangerous levels.

Drinking water that contains high levels of nitrate is especially dangerous for unborn children, infants younger than six months and adults with low stomach acidity.

To participate in the free screening, well owners are advised to take the following steps on that morning:

    Identify a source that is not connected to a treatment device. An outside faucet or hydrant works best.

    Locate a clean glass jar with lid or zip top bag to collect the water sample. Label the outside with your name or address, date and well name — garden or house well.

    Allow the water to run five-10 minutes to empty the pressure tank so water comes directly from the aquifer. This leads to more accurate results.

    Fill the container with about one cup of water.

    Keep the sample cool. DEQ will dip a test strip into the water to see if nitrate is present.

    Sample bottles, instructions and cost information will be available at the health fair for those who would like to submit samples to a laboratory for a more accurate analysis.

    For more information, call Irene Nautch at 208-736-2190 or email irene.nautch@deq.idaho.gov.

    For free online classes and webinars offered to well-owners nationwide, go to privatewellclass.org or wellowner.org.

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