Know what’s in your well

Nearly one in four people living in Oregon get their drinking water from a well.

If you are one of them, you have the right to know what’s in your water. Domestic well water can be contaminated by bacteria, nitrates, and arsenic, among other things—all of which can have serious health impacts. Oregon Environmental Council supports legislation in Salem to ensure that renters who depend on well water at their homes for drinking, cooking and bathing have information about contaminants so they can take action to protect their families.

Why should you be concerned?
These contaminants can cause serious health problems such as cancer, miscarriage and thyroid disorders. Pregnant women and small children are particularly at risk from nitrate exposure, especially infants because their digestive and enzyme systems are not fully developed. High levels of nitrates can cause infants to suffer from “Blue Baby Syndrome,” which decreases the ability of blood to carry oxygen and can be fatal.

Oregon has a fairly widespread problem with nitrate, arsenic and bacteria contamination of well water. Oregon Health Authority has excellent resources, including an online Water Well Owner’s Handbook and an interactive map showing areas where tests of private wells have concerning levels of arsenic and nitrates.

Oregon Health Authority recommends that all domestic well owners conduct a one-time arsenic test and annual nitrate and bacteria tests. State law currently requires property owners to test domestic wells at the time of a property sale. However, compliance with that requirement is low, and state officials have no enforcement mechanism.

In reality, most families that drink well water have never had their well tested, and renters often lack information on whether their well water is safe to drink, despite the legal requirement of landlords to provide safe drinking water.

Our “Safe Well Water” bill seeks to address this problem. House Bill 2860:

  • Requires landlords to test drinking water wells for E. coli, arsenic and nitrates, and inform tenants of the testing results.
  • Directs Oregon Health Authority to analyze well test data and provide public education in areas where contaminants are present.
  • Creates a new Safe Well Water Fund to help local health authorities and other educators provide well water education and testing of wells, and to provide grants and loans to low-income property owners and landlords for repair of drinking water wells or installation of water quality treatment systems.

The Safe Well Water Bill, HB 2860, is up for a work session on April 2, which means that policymakers in Salem will discuss its merits and decide whether to move it forward in the 2019 legislative session. Once it moves forward, we will need your help telling your state representative and senator that people who depend on well water across Oregon deserve to have the information they need to protect their families.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Transportation Solutions Featured Toxics-Free Environments Air Quality Media/PR/Statements Climate Protection Policy OEC News/Updates/Events Water News
Sort by

Oregon House Votes to Curb Diesel Pollution

Old dirty diesel engines may soon be on their way out SALEM — Diesel
June 25, 2019, 10:21 pm


Legislature Passes Two Electric Vehicle Bills

Imagine a transportation system with lots of options for getting around. Imagine vehicles
June 19, 2019, 10:30 pm


Oregon House of Representatives’ adoption of HB 2020 sends legislation to Senate

OEC applauds the continued progress to climate history SALEM — Oregon’s House of Representatives continued h
June 18, 2019, 3:26 am


Ways and Means members adopt HB 2020, moves forward historic climate action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 12, 2019 The Clean Energy Jobs bill now moves toward votes in House and Senate
June 13, 2019, 4:39 am


Oregon’s landmark climate bill moves toward Ways and Means, historic action

Natural Resources subcommittee OKs HB 2020 after amendment FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 5, 2019
June 6, 2019, 3:32 am


Carbon reduction committee energizes the Clean Energy Jobs bill toward passage

Members approved HB 2020, bill moves to Ways and Means PORTLAND — Members of the Joint Committee
May 18, 2019, 5:17 pm


Oregon Lawmakers Take Action Against White House Attacks on Environmental Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 15, 2019 PORTLAND, OR – The Environmental Protection Act (HB 2250) has passed the Senate and is headed to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown. HB 2250 ensures that Oregon’s s
May 15, 2019, 8:24 am


U.S. Supreme Court passes on hearing oil industry challenge against Oregon’s clean-fuels momentum

The Clean Fuels Standard continues immense success, to remain for decades FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 13, 2019
May 14, 2019, 12:30 am


#CEJisREADY for final passage: Response to HB 2020’s amendments

Oregon must seize the opportunity to be a national leader in responding to climate change The Clean Energy Jobs bill is ready for a vote by the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction. It’s time. Let’s do this,
May 7, 2019, 5:17 pm


1 Reply to "Know what’s in your well"

  • What we're watching: Water | Oregon Environmental Council
    April 25, 2019 (10:35 pm)

    […] one in four people living in Oregon get their drinking water from a well. If you are one of them, you have the right to know what’s in your water. Domestic well water can be contaminated by bacteria, nitrates, and arsenic, among other […]

Got something to say?

Some html is OK