Central Coast Water Board Offers Free Domestic Well Testing

By on September 28, 2018
Water Testing

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is providing free water quality testing for residents that get their drinking water from domestic wells.

Previous testing suggests the likelihood of widespread groundwater contamination problems that warrants periodic testing of the estimated 44,000 domestic wells throughout the region. Of the 1,627 domestic wells tested by various entities in 2014, more than one out of every four wells exceeded public health drinking water standards for nitrate. In some areas, testing showed more than 40 percent of the wells exceeded safe drinking water standards. Arsenic is also a common contaminate in domestic wells.

“Protecting the public’s health is our highest priority. The well sampling project aligns with that priority and with our staff’s efforts to assist disadvantaged individuals in identifying and addressing unsafe drinking water conditions where they exist,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Wolff, chair of the Central Coast Water Board.

In many agricultural areas, nitrate often seeps into well water from three main sources — agricultural fertilizers, treated sewage and the waste from livestock. Water contaminated with nitrate can lead to health risks, especially for infants under six months old and women who are pregnant or nursing. Drinking or cooking with water with excessive nitrate levels can affect the body’s ability to carry oxygen.

One major stumbling block is that the traditional remedy for substandard water – boiling it in attempt to kill harmful bacteria – only makes matters worse for nitrate. Boiling actually increases the concentration of nitrate in the water, exacerbating the health risks.

Free water quality testing is available to people living in the Central Coast Region (i.e., Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara Counties, southern Santa Clara County, and very small portions of San Mateo, Kern and Ventura Counties) that get their drinking water from a private domestic or shared well that is not part of a public water system. Testing services will be provided by staff fluent in Spanish and English.

“Our well sampling program supports the state’s human right to safe drinking water by helping those dependent on domestic and small water systems know what’s in their drinking water. With that information, they can take action when necessary, and we and other agencies can provide assistance.” said John Robertson, Central Coast Water Board executive officer.

Residents who suspect their drinking water contains unsafe levels of nitrate should not drink it, cook with it or use it to make baby formula.

Central Coast residents wishing to have their drinking water tested can call a bilingual, toll-free number (844) 613-5152, or go to https://sites.google.com/view/ccgroundwater to schedule testing.

Participants will receive sampling results along with A Guide for Private Domestic Well Owners that includes information on recommended water quality testing, how to interpret the results, what to do if the well is contaminated and how to protect the well from contamination. Information on free replacement water programs will also be provided.