RUPERT, Idaho (KLIX) — The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in partnership with Idaho Rural Water Association, will offer free nitrate screenings for private well owners later this week in Rupert.

Another screening will be offered in mid-August in Burley.

The department said public water systems are regularly monitored for harmful contaminants, but for well owners that responsibility falls on them.

The first screening will be from 3 to 8 p.m. this Thursday and Friday, Aug. 1-2 at the Minidoka County Fair in Rupert; the second will be the same time on Thursday, Aug. 15 and Friday, Aug. 16, at the Cassia County Fair in Burley.

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

DEQ said that well owners planning to attend either event should do the following on the morning of the screening:

  • 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 to 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.

Two free water screenings also were held recently in Lincoln County.