State Water Board Releases Tool to Identify Nitrate-Impacted Wells

Dec. 5, 2014

December 3, 2014 – The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has launched an interactive tool to help individual Californians determine if private water wells are close to other wells with nitrate concentrations above public health standards.  An interactive tool called “Is My Property Near a Nitrate-Impacted Water Well?” was created in response to recommendations in the State Water Board’s 2013 Nitrate Report to the Legislature.

“Groundwater contamination poses a challenge to all types of drinking water sources, requiring effort by property owners with private wells to have them tested regularly for contamination,” said State Water Board Executive Director Tom Howard. “This interactive tool provides valuable information on nitrate in groundwater, allowing property owners to make an informed decision about whether to test their private well.”

The public can access the interactive tool from the State Water Board’s home page or at

A “nitrate-impacted well” is a well with at least one detection above the health standard since 2000. The interactive tool allows users to determine if their well is in the vicinity (2,000 feet) of a nitrate-impacted well.  In addition, the interactive tool includes a “frequently asked questions” document for users to learn more about nitrate in groundwater.

More than 95 percent of Californians receive safe drinking water from their public water system, which are regularly tested for contaminants. Public water systems are required to take action to ensure water delivered to consumers meets drinking water standards for all regulated contaminants. However, there is no requirement for private well testing.  The Water Boards recommend that private well owners test their wells annually by an accredited drinking water laboratory to evaluate its quality. A listing of state-accredited laboratories is available here.

Nitrate pollution in groundwater is a widespread water quality problem that can pose serious health risks to pregnant women and infants if consumed at concentrations above the MCL.

Nitrate contaminated groundwater is a particularly significant problem in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley areas, but is also prevalent in other areas of California.

Source: CA State Water Resources Control Board

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