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Well owners can get water tested for free this week in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) — Private well owners can get their water tested for free on Thursday in Rochester.

For people who live in the city, their water testing is taken care of by the utility company. The water gets tested and treated regularly.

For private well owners, it’s their responsibility to test and make sure their water is safe to use. 1.2 million Minnesota households have private wells and 40% of Olmsted County has private wells.

Although water testing isn’t mandated by law for well owners, it is highly recommended that they get their water tested at least once a year.

The Minnesota Well Owners Organization is hosting a free drive-thru water testing clinic Thursday from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. at 125 Live in Rochester. The clinic will be in the lower lot.

Those who want their water tested are asked to bring a jar or bottle of their water, and it will be tested on site with results in just minutes. Staff will be able to give recommendations if the test is abnormal.

“Our geology is particularly sensitive to groundwater contamination, and you don’t know because you can’t taste or smell. But there are health risks that we need to be concerned with,” Minnesota Well Owners Organization Founder Jeff Broberg said. “But it’s easy, easy, easy to fix. If you know what’s in your water, it’s only a risk if you assume that it’s good and it’s not.”

Broberg is a registered geologist with more than 40 years of experience working with environmental risk issues.

He said things to look for in your water are levels of nitrates, bacteria and arsenic.

Lead, copper and pesticides are also harmful in large quantities, especially in pregnant women and children.

The organization strongly recommends water testing for people who live close to farms, gas stations or landfills.

Karuna Ojanen is also a founder of the organization and she said clean water isn’t a given right, and that it takes money and individual responsibility to make sure water is safe.

Ojanen is an attorney and also has a certificate in natural resources law and was the editor for the Natural Resources Journal.

“We think of Minnesota as this pristine environment, and it is so beautiful, but we have to be aware that our water is degrading,” she said. “It not only affects humans. It affects the trees and the plants, and it certainly affects the fish.”

She said sometimes people who live in rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to having access to clean water because of the cost of well water maintenance and agricultural runoff.

“There has to be a minimization of the amount of nitrates, the amount of phosphorous and the amount of silt that is being put into our water,” she said.

To learn more, visit the Minnesota Well Owners Organization website.

Megan Zemple

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