Nitrate is the most widespread pollutant in Idaho’s groundwater. Due to Idaho’s land use practices and human activities, certain areas are susceptible to contamination. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recognizes this and has identified priority areas throughout the state where groundwater is especially degraded. Within the Twin Falls Nitrate Priority Area, one of the largest priority areas, DEQ is offering free nitrate testing for owners of private wells.

Here’s a map of the nitrate priority areas DEQ has identified in Idaho.

Next Tuesday, Feb 16, DEQ is offering free testing by DEQ staff at the Buhl Community Health and Information Fair for those living in Buhl and nearby cities.

  • When: Tuesday, Feb 16, 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Where: Popplewell Elementary School, 200 N 6th Ave, Buhl
  • What: Free nitrate testing for owners of private wells

DEQ lists instructions here for those interested in bringing a water sample to be tested.

Nitrate is found in small amounts naturally, but enters our ground water through fertilizers, septic systems, livestock operations, and food processing facilities. The state drinking water standard for nitrate is currently set at 10 mg/L. A small percentage of Idaho wells have sampled at higher levels, which is of concern especially for sensitive populations, like the elderly or people in poor health. Nitrates post the greatest risk to infants under six months old because they consume a large quantity of liquids relative to body weight. Excessive consumption for infants can lead to a disease called methemoglobinemia, which hinders the body’s ability to carry oxygen. Livestock can also be sickened by high levels of nitrate in the water.

Regardless of whether you have an infant in your home, we think this is a great opportunity to get your well water tested!