Friday, May 10, 2013

How to test your well water

Thinking about getting your water tested?  Great idea! 

Thurston County Environmental Health Division recommends testing your well water for bacteria once a year.  Test for nitrate at least every three years, before bringing home an infant, and when a woman living in the home is pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant.  So really, when did you last get your well water tested? 

If you are on city water or a community water system, don’t worry.  Cities and community water systems test the water even more often.  You can see the results in their annual water quality report found on each city’s website.  Or, call the water system operator and ask about the water quality test results. 

Ready to test?  Here’s how.
Pick up sample bottles at one of six Thurston County locations including one in Yelm, Rainier, Rochester, Tenino, and Olympia at the county courthouse and the public health building on Lilly Road.  There are also two locations in Mason County. To find the specific locations and hours visit the County’s How to Collect a Water Sample web page or call (360) 867-2631.
You can pay the $27 testing fee at some of the locations or send a check with the water sample (see the web page for details).
There are specific details about collecting a water sample in the directions that come with the sample bottle.  Here are a few hints. 
Be sure to keep the bottle sterile.  Don’t touch the inside of the bottle or the lid, even if you just washed your hands.  You may see moisture or white powder inside the bottle.  It is supposed to be there, please don’t rinse it out.  Actually, don’t rinse the bottle at all, just fill it as directed. 
Plan ahead.  The filled sample bottle should be returned the same day you take the sample.  You might even want to bring it to us in a cooler. Check your preferred location, to see when samples can be accepted, as many have limited hours.  Some testing requires time for any potential germs to grow, so we generally cannot accept samples on Friday.  
You should receive test results by mail within a few days of when you submitted the sample. If your sample shows contamination, you will receive a phone call immediately and information on how to proceed with your specific situation.

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