Drinking Water Well Testing

FREE WELL TESTING EVENT — WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2024:

Protect Our Water Jackson Hole (POWJH) received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education grant, with a supporting matching grant from the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, to work with Jackson Hole High School science teachers and students on a water quality awareness curriculum.

As part of the program, the Advanced Placement Environmental Science students will volunteer their time to host drinking water well testing events. Free well test kits will be provided, and students will instruct community members how to complete the test. Any private well owner can participate.

All Teton County residents using water from a private drinking water well are responsible for its testing, operation, and maintenance to ensure the water is safe to drink. Late spring is the best time to test well water because snowmelt and rain increase the likelihood of disturbing contaminants. (The Town of Jackson performs regular water quality testing to ensure a safe water supply. Town residents can read the 2022 Annual Water Quality Report at: jacksonwy.gov/174/Water-Division)


What is included in the free test kits?

This POWJH well-testing program will look at two contaminants of concern – nitrates and E. coli bacteria. Human health issues from nitrates include diminished oxygen-carrying capacity in our blood, and E. coli can cause mild to severe upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

Nitrate indicator test strips will be included in the test kits
      • If your nitrate strip shows 3ppm or higher, please let POWJH staff know when you return your test kit. POWJH recommends further testing and will assist in purchasing a more comprehensive test kit for you from Teton Conservation District (TCD).
POWJH is also collaborating with Teton County Public Health (TCPH) to provide coliform bacteria test kits which will test for E. coli bacteria
      • TCPH will send coliform bacteria results to the email address on their water analysis form included with the test kit.

Due to the nature of aquatic contaminants like coliform bacteria and nitrate, it is best to get data to support the determination that a drinking water problem exists. Specifically, a comprehensive test from TCD, or a re-sample for coliform bacteria test from TCPH are the best next steps. If a problem is discovered, TCD, TCPH, and POWJH staff are here to help find the solution.

TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FREE WELL TEST PROGRAM:

More details coming soon!

  • PICK UP a test kit – time and location TBD

    • Wednesday, March 13, 2024
  • COLLECT the water sample
    • Date TBD – in the morning
  • RETURN the test kit – time and location TBD
    • Test kits must be analyzed the same day the sample is taken.
      POWJH will transport them to the Health Department lab.

 

The importance of testing your drinking water well

Why should I test my well water?

If you live in a rural area, your water supply likely comes from a groundwater drinking water well on your property. All residents using water from a private well are solely responsible for operating, testing, and maintaining their well to ensure the water is safe to drink.

In 2012, 1 in 8 drinking water tests from private wells in Teton County, WY tested unsafe = positive for total coliform bacteria. (tetoncountywy.gov)

Coliform bacteria are microbes found in human or animal waste, soil, and surface water. A water sample that is positive for total coliforms indicates that it is very possible that harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites might also be found in the water.

When should I test my well water?

  • Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality recommends at least once a year. (knowyourwell.org)
  • Spring and summer runoff months are good times to test well water because snowmelt and rain increase the likelihood of mobilizing contaminants.
  • You’re pregnant, nursing, or have children in the household.
  • You notice a change in water taste, color, odor, or clarity.
  • You experience unexplained illnesses in your household.
  • After your, or a neighbor’s, septic system failure.
  • There was a chemical/oil spill nearby, a flood, land disturbance, or a fire.
  • There is water accumulating around your well head.
  • You are buying or selling a property.

How do I test my well water?

  • POWJH and JH High School students free well testing event (May 2023). Test kits include E. coli and nitrates.
  • Teton County Health Department has $20 bacteria tests. Contact: (307) 733-6401, tetoncountywy.gov
  • Teton Conservation District has $50 chemical and bacteria test kits that include arsenic, chloride, fluoride, nitrate, nitrite, pH, sodium, sulfate, total coliforms (bacteria), total dissolved solids, and total hardness. Lead and other metals can be added for an additional fee. Contact: (307) 733-2110, tetonconservation.org

How can I protect my drinking water well?

  • Avoid using or storing fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, vehicles/fuels, and other pollutants within 100 feet of your well.
  • Maintain your septic system to ensure it is working correctly. Leach fields can contaminate wells.
  • Make sure your well has a sealed, intact well cap and the visible casing is not corroded or damaged.
  • Do not keep livestock near your well.
  • Install a barrier surrounding the well if wildlife frequent the area.

Town of Jackson residents

The Town of Jackson performs regular water quality testing to ensure a safe water supply and to satisfy current state and federal regulations. This information is required to be provided to residents each year in a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). Town of Jackson residents can read the 2022 Annual Water Quality Report (CCR) at: jacksonwy.gov/174/Water-Division