Since June 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working in partnership with the citizens of San Luis Valley, Colo., to ensure clean and safe drinking water from their household drinking water wells.
To recognize the community for its initiative and collaborative effort, EPA officials traveled to San Luis Valley to present six community leaders with the U.S. EPA Friends of Environmental Protection Award for “outstanding environmental stewardship and outstanding environmental education in a rural setting.”
The San Luis Valley Drinking Water Well Project is the first regional project to provide free sampling and analysis of drinking water from private wells. It is estimated that 30% of the San Luis Valley area residents are not served by public water systems and obtain their water from household wells.
EPA regional administrator Robert E. Roberts said, “Household wells are water sources that are not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, leaving well users and owners responsible for the quality of their own drinking water. EPA wants to ensure that residents of the San Luis Valley have clean, safe drinking water for themselves and their families.”
Water testing results indicate that 28.5% of household wells were positive for bacteria, 1.4% for nitrates, 11.9% for arsenic, 1.4% lead, 3.1% for uranium, and 3.6% for fluoride.
Participants with positive bacteria test results were instructed on how to apply the shock chlorination technique to make their drinking water safe. Participants were also provided information on point of use treatment systems, such as reverse osmosis.
EPA estimates that of the 400 households participating in this project, more than 70% have taken steps to treat their drinking water.