Well users in Oregon whose properties were affected by wildfires can get help paying for water testing so they can stay safe from contaminants in their drinking water.
In October, the Oregon Legislature allocated funds to Oregon Health Authority to support domestic well water testing for an estimated 2,000 households that rely on wells for drinking water and were affected by the 2020 wildfires. If demand exceeds supply, people with low income and communities of color will be prioritized.
Well users can find steps needed to access the funds at healthoregon.org/wells. Well owners will find guidance about how to first assess damage, then take actions to protect their wells, and finally test their well water to confirm it is safe to drink.
Curtis Cude, manager of the OHA’s Domestic Well Safety Program, urges well owners to “follow recommendations in the well damage assessment. Make sure you know what work you are authorized to do and when you need to hire a licensed professional.” Actions may include:
• Repair and replace damaged well components.
• Re-pressurize and refill the well.
• Flush water lines.
• Treat the well for microbial contaminants.
• Test (apply for free testing).
OHA will provide testing vouchers to well owners now through May 15. Well owners can select from a list of approved environmental laboratories in Oregon that will honor the vouchers for testing services. The tests will look for presence of bacteria, nitrates, arsenic, lead and chemicals that are hazardous byproducts of fire.
Applications can be found at healthoregon.org/wells