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Well Testing Program Tells You If Your Water Is Contaminated

Krista Almanzan
Water being sampled from a well at a home in Aromas.

Arsenic and nitrates are among the most common contaminants found in private wells on the Central Coast.  But not everyone who relies on these wells for drinking water knows it. That’s why the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board offers one-time, free domestic well testing. 

“We’ve got a bottle for nitrates.  We’ve got a bottle for a bunch of different metals: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, arsenic,” says Emily Jenson Wolf as she prepares to take a sample from a home in the hills of Aromas.  She’s an Environmental Scientist with the firm Tetra Tech. 

Once the bottles are full, she puts them on ice and ships them overnight to a lab.   This testing was requested by the person who lives here and is being paid for by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.  

Julia Dyer works for that state agency.  She says domestic wells should be tested once a year. 

“A lot of folks don't do the annual testing and we want people to be able to make informed decisions about their water and whether or not they need to treat it or drink bottled water,” says Dyer. 


The goal of this one time, domestic well testing program is to let residents know about any potential contaminants in their drinking water.  Locally, the most common contaminate is nitrates. Sources include fertilizers, livestock and septic systems.

“What we do on the land is reflected in the water,” says Dyer.  

Dyer says if your neighbor’s well has already been tested, chances are your water is similar. However, she says, “there can be localized variations, which is why you want to test your own water.”

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board estimates there are 44,000 domestic wells on the Central Coast.  It's unknown how many are contaminated, but this program will help develop that database. 

Whether you rent a home or own the property, you can sign up for a one-time testing. Find more details here.  Depending on where  you live, you may be put on a waitlist.  Results from all tests are available online.

Krista joined KAZU in 2007. She is an award winning journalist with more than a decade of broadcast experience. Her stories have won regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and honors from the Northern California Radio and Television News Directors Association. Prior to working at KAZU, Krista reported in Sacramento for Capital Public Radio and at television stations in Iowa. Like KAZU listeners, Krista appreciates the in-depth, long form stories that are unique to public radio. She's pleased to continue that tradition in the Monterey Bay Area.
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