Umatilla County Health Announces Free Domestic Well Safety Program

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Private well users within the(Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area (LUBGWMA ) of Umatilla County can now schedule to have an environmental health specialist from the Umatilla County Health Department (UCo Health) provide individual recommendations to protect your drinking water.

The qualifying areas are Hermiston – 97838; Stanfield  – 97875; Echo – 97826; and Umatilla – 97882.

Anyone in the qualifying area can click this link to schedule a date and time to have an environmental sealth specialist come to their home and conduct a survey of their domestic well. Included in this survey will be the collection of water samples to be submitted for testing.

Participants will receive a copy of all test results, along with an inspection form containing recommendations from UCo Health about next steps and advice around well stewardship. Dates and times available for this program are currently limited, but are anticipated to expand as UCo Health works to increase capacity.

“This is a free program” said UCo Health Director Joseph Fiumara. “It is also a non-regula-tory program, meaning that there is no mechanism for UCo Health to require any compliance as a result of these surveys. It is simply a way to provide individualized education and recommendations directly to anyone who is drinking water from a private well.”

The funding for this program runs through June 15 and continuation is dependent on funding being renewed.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Agriculture designated LUBGWMA in 1990 under Oregon’s groundwater Quality Protection Act of 1989 due to regional nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in groundwater that exceeded 7 mg/L. The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act defines high nitrates at a level exceeding 10 mg/L.

  • Nitrate up to 10 mg/L is SAFE for all uses.
  • Nitrate between 11 mg/L and 40 mg/L is NOT SAFE to drink for infants who rely on baby formula, children younger than 3, or women who are or may become pregnant, or to use for tooth brushing in children younger than 3. It is SAFE to drink short term, up to a year, by people 3 and older (except pregnant women), pets and livestock. It is SAFE for other domestic uses, including bathing, washing dishes, laundry and garden irrigation.
  • Nitrate above 40 mg/L is NOT SAFE for drinking. It is SAFE for other domestic uses, including bathing, washing dishes, laundry and garden irrigation.

The Oregon Health Authority has additional information about nitrates in a FAQ sheet on its website in English and Spanish.