The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is offering free domestic well water testing to about 2,000 households affected by wildfire that rely on wells for drinking water.
The Oregon Legislature allocated funds for free well testing in response to the devastating wildfires of 2020. Many communities and households were still digging out from ash and debris when the original program’s funding expired in June 2021. If demand exceeds supply, people with low income and communities of color will be prioritized.
Well users whose properties were affected by wildfires can find steps needed to access the funds, which became available Nov. 1, at www.healthoregon.org/wells. Well owners will find guidance on how to assess damage, take action to protect their well, and test their well water to confirm it is safe to drink.
Curtis Cude, manager of the Oregon Health Authority’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,” he said.
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 users through May 15, 2023. To ensure that all 2020 wildfire-affected domestic well users can receive free testing, OHA can offer one voucher per affected well. Well users 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 by-products of fire.