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State Offers Well Testing In Fire Zones

Andy Nelson
Register Guard/pool

The state of Oregon is offering to help people living in areas affected by last fall’s wildfires to get their wells tested.


Fire doesn’t just destroy buildings. It can damage wells that people in rural areas rely on for drinking and other household uses. 


Repairing that damage is up to the property owner or their insurance company. But once the well is back in working order, the Oregon Health Authority suggests getting it tested to look for the hazardous byproducts of fire, such as arsenic, lead or other harmful chemicals. 

The agency is accepting applications from people in fire damaged areas to get a voucher for a free test. Oregon lawmakers approved funding for up to 2,000 vouchers. If demand exceeds supply, priority will be given to low income households and communities of color.


The agency also said that "second homes" and vacation homes will be given a lower priority for the vouchers.


Only properties that were within an active fire zone, or within 100 feet of active fire, are eligible for the well testing voucher. The Oregon Health Authority said results of the test will be included in a public database, although personal information will not be included in the publicly available data.


Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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