SWEET HOME, Ore. – An Oregon State University Extension Service program is teaming with the Sweet Home Rotary Club and other partners to offer free well water testing in the area.

Analytical Laboratories & Consultants of Eugene also is playing a key role in the project.

Sweet Home area residents who pre-register for a class on well management will receive the free water tests, choosing from three different sessions – one on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10 to 11:45 a.m., and the others on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. and 6 to 7:45 p.m. Classes will be held at the Sweet Home School District administration building board room, 1920 Long Street in Sweet Home.

Water samples will be tested for nitrates, coliform bacteria and arsenic, said Gail Andrews, coordinator of the OSU Extension Service’s Well Water Program. The arsenic samples will go to the Analytical lab in Eugene, which is doing the testing at a reduced cost for this community project. A microbiologist has volunteered to test the bacteria samples, and the Lebanon Hospital is allowing her to use their incubator. Trained students and community volunteers will screen the samples for nitrate during the class.

“It’s the great community involvement that has allowed this project to come together,” Andrews said. “The Sweet Home area is one of the few regions in Oregon that has had widespread arsenic in groundwater that supplies the water to wells used for drinking.

“In Oregon, household well owners aren’t required to test their water and it’s possible that people in the area may unknowingly be drinking water that contains arsenic.”

Interested persons may register for the class and pick up sample bottles from now through Feb. 7 from the Sweet Home Community Pool, the Sweet Home Boys and Girls Club, or the Sweet Home Forest Service Ranger Station during their regular business hours.

The OSU Well Water Program has held numerous such classes and workshops throughout Oregon, Andrews said, but usually tests only for nitrates. Testing for arsenic and bacteria is more expensive. However, a grant obtained by the Sweet Home Rotary Club will help pay for tests to the first 100 residents living in the region as outlined by area code – Sweet Home (97386), Foster (97345), Crawfordsville (97336) and Cascadia (97329).

For more information on safe drinking water from household wells, visit the OSU Well Water Program’s website at http://wellwater.oregonstate.edu

“It’s an important test,” Andrews said, “and the class will provide valuable information on proper care of household wells and drinking water safety.”

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Gail Andrews,