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Wildfire-stricken homesteads can get free testing of their well water

Jainath Ponnala
Vintage water pump for domestic well.

Wildfire survivors can get free testing for their drinking water wells, under a program run by the Oregon Health Authority.

Officials are focusing on the estimated 2,000 households affected by the 2020 wildfire season, considered the worst in Oregon history. People with wells can get guidance on assessing damage and how to make sure their water is safe to drink.

Curtis Cude manages OHA’s Domestic Well Safety Program.

“Those fires and heat could crack the well head, the piping, the well casing itself, and allow surface water to come back down and contaminate the well with bacteria or nitrates.” He told KLCC.

“Another thing that could happen is the ground could get hot enough that the metal well casing itself could conduct head down and ruin the pump or any other components that are down there and that could also contaminate the well water.”

Water can also be tested for arsenic and lead levels.

The Oregon Legislature allocated funds for the testing, which is an extension of a program that began in February. Vouchers for free testing can be found online at https://healthoregon.org/wells.

If demand exceeds capacity, residences for low-income and people of color will be prioritized.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.