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Health department encourages private well owners to have water tested

faucet-with-running-waterMASON CITY – The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health recognized National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 8-14, 2015. Groundwater is a very important source of water to Iowans as 82% of the population is served by groundwater supplies. Of the individuals that use groundwater in Iowa, an estimated 450,000 use private wells for their water supply.

This year, the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health is encouraging all private well owners who have not had their well water tested to contact the Health Department to request a water test. “Maintaining a safe water supply is one of the most important responsibilities of a private well owner,” said Sophia Walsh, Environmental Health Specialist, Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health. “Water testing is the only way to ensure the safety of a private water supply.”

Private wells are not regulated after installation and therefore, it is the well owner’s responsibility to maintain a safe water supply. In order to do this, the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health recommends that private well owners should properly maintain and test their well water annually for bacteria, nitrates, and arsenic. These potentially harmful contaminants are usually colorless, odorless and tasteless and require proper testing to be detected in a water supply. These contaminants can be avoided or removed with proper well maintenance and/or treatment.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring contaminant present in some bedrock in Northern Iowa. The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health is currently funded by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant to perform a five year study about arsenic in groundwater and how to drill new wells that have a reduced risk of unsafe arsenic levels.

If you are interested in testing your private well, please contact your local public health agency. In Cerro Gordo County, please contact our office at 641-421-9300.

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