Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Free nitrate screenings offered to private well owners in Rupert August 1-2 and Burley August 15-16

Friday, July 26, 2019

Twin Falls — Is your well water safe to drink? Public water systems are regularly monitored for harmful contaminants, but if you own your well, this responsibility falls to you.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in partnership with Idaho Rural Water Association, will offer two free nitrate screenings for private well owners. The first will be at the Minidoka County Fair in Rupert on Thursday, August 1, and Friday, August 2, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The second will be at the Cassia County Fair in Burley on Thursday, August 15, and Friday, August 16 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Nitrate is the most widespread contaminant in Idaho ground water. It is a chemical form of nitrogen found naturally in small amounts in soil and ground water. However, some land use practices and human activities may increase nitrate in ground water to dangerous levels. In areas with shallow depths to ground water, sandy soils, fractured bedrock, 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 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.


For more information, contact Irene Nautch at DEQ's Twin Falls Regional Office at (208) 736-2190 or e-mail For information about free online classes and webinars offered for well owners nationwide, visit



Media Contact

Source Water Protection Analyst
Irene Nautch
DEQ Twin Falls Regional Office
650 Addison Avenue West, Suite 110
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 736-2190