The three-year project, funded by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), provided free laboratory tests to the owners of private, domestic wells. Some 521 individual households participated in the study. Water from incorporated cities, towns, and villages was not included in the study because those systems are routinely treated and tested for contaminants already. The study ended June 30.
Ward said an estimated 17,500 people living in New Mexico’s border region obtain their water supply from their own wells. Due to the high cost of lab testing, most well owners are reluctant to ship their water to laboratories for testing. “It’s a gap in our knowledge of water quality in this area,” said Ward. “We don’t have the income base to press well owners to test their water. So, they do without.”
Ward said the project proved a win-win for both the well owners and the NMDOH. “The Health Department remains particularly interested in understanding the quality of our groundwater. However, the department three years ago didn’t have a good picture of the groundwater quality down here in southern New Mexico,” she said. “As for the well owners, they jumped at the opportunity to save $200 to $300 for a laboratory analysis of their water.”
During the course of the project, water samples were collected once each week and shipped overnight to the state-authorized drinking water lab in Albuquerque. Staff members at Cooperative Extension Offices in Deming, Las Cruces, Lordsburg, or Silver City assisted with collections and shipments.
“I can’t thank the Cooperative Extension Service enough for their help and support of this project,” said Ward. “The project would have gone nowhere without the enthusiastic support of the Extension staff.”
A report on the three-year study can be found in the Miscellaneous Reports section of NM WRRI’s website by clicking here. Upon request, NM WRRI can email a copy of the Excel database of laboratory results. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for a copy.