Well Water Testing on July 7 and July 8

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July 5, 2017

Santa Fe County, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) are hosting a free Domestic Well Water Testing event for residents in the Pojoaque Basin with private wells serving homes not connected to a public water utility.

The event will be held at the Pojoaque High School Gymnasium located at 1574 NM 502, Pojoaque, on Friday, July 7 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, July 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

These free well water tests will be offered on a first‐come, first‐served basis. There will be two types of tests: lab tests and in-field testing. The lab test will be done for the first 500 well water samples from within the Pojoaque Basin; it includes laboratory analysis for iron, nitrate, arsenic, manganese, fluoride, uranium, electrical conductivity and pH. The in-field test will be done onsite at the gymnasium for the first 200 well water samples not within the Pojoaque Basin; this test includes field analysis for sulfate, nitrate, arsenic, fluoride, iron, electrical conductivity, and pH with the option for the above lab testing for a charge of $91.38 (Checks only. No cash accepted).  Map of Pojoaque Basin

As part of the Aamodt Settlement Agreement, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is designing a new Regional Water System that will serve both Pueblo and non-Pueblo residents of the Pojoaque Basin. Under the Settlement Agreement, domestic well owners that accept the Settlement Agreement will have the opportunity to formally elect to connect to the County Water Utility or continue using their well water. The County anticipates that the Federal Court will set a well election date for some time prior to the end of the year.

“The Water Fair is a unique opportunity for Pojoaque Basin well owners to better understand the quality of their private well water prior to making a well election,” said Henry Roybal, Santa Fe County District 1 Commissioner.

Well water constituents may be naturally occurring or may result from other sources such as fertilizers, animal waste, and septic tanks which can contain nitrates. Drinking water with high levels of nitrate can be dangerous to pregnant women and infants, while other contaminants may lead to aesthetic nuisances and other health problems. Arsenic is naturally occurring and has been measured in water from private wells throughout the state at concentrations that exceed recommended safe drinking water quality standards. Naturally occurring uranium has been measured as well in the Pojoaque Basin at levels exceeding safe drinking water standards.

Well owners are encouraged to periodically test their drinking water, although such tests can be costly, starting at $150. Free test results from the Pojoaque Basin Water Fair will be mailed or emailed to participants following the event.

“Well testing is critical, as private well characteristics can vary greatly from one well to the next, even if the wells are right next to one another. According to survey responses, most private well owners in New Mexico do not use any sort of water treatment system, so it’s especially important for those well owners to understand what is in their well water,” said Kathryn Hayden of the Environment Department’s Ground Water Quality Bureau. “Most New Mexicans surveyed have never had their well water tested before or are not sure if they have done so.”

To support well owners, more information about wells, water quality and safety is available at https://nmtracking.org/water 

To have water tested, residents need to bring a sample of their water to the event.

• Fill a clean glass or plastic container, without any strong odors, with at least a quart or liter of your well water.
• Collect the water before it runs through any water treatment or filters such as a reverse osmosis, a carbon filter, or a water softener. If the home has a whole house filtration system, collect the water at the well head.
• Let the water run for a couple of minutes before collecting the sample.
• Fill the container with the water as close to the time of testing as possible.

Along with the water sample, residents are asked to bring the following voluntary information about their well: well depth, depth to water, well casing material (i.e., steel, pvc), distance from well to the nearest septic tank/leachfield system, OSE permit number and well coordinates (which can be obtained using Google Maps). A sample form for gathering this useful information is available at

https://nmtracking.org/view/pdf/environment/water/private_wells/water_fairs/WF_form.pdf .

If well owners are unable to attend the event but would like to have their water tested, they may have their sample brought to the event by a family member or neighbor as long as the bottle is clearly labeled with their name, phone number, and address and information about the well is attached. The agencies will only test water that comes from homes that rely on private wells for drinking water. Water from households that are connected to city/community/public water system is periodically tested by those systems and those results are available at


For further information about this water testing opportunity, please contact Santa Fe County Utilities at 505-986-2426 or the New Mexico Environment Department at 505‐827‐1046.

For more information please visit the County’s Aamodt page at: http://www.santafecountynm.gov/public_works/utilities/aamodt