BALDWIN — The Mason-Lake Conservation District, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and Lake MSU Extension will sponsor a free domestic drinking-water well screening from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on July 9.

Those that wish to have their well water tested free of charge can bring water samples to the MSU Extension office, located in the Baldwin Business Center at 830 Michigan Ave., Suite 601, in Baldwin.

Samples from drinking-water wells will be screened for nitrate and nitrite. The screening is open to everyone who uses a personal well for drinking water. Information forms — available at the Mason-Lake Conservation District office in Scottville and the Lake County MSU Extension office in Baldwin — should be filled out prior to the samples being dropped of on July 9.

The service is for private drinking-water wells only. Public water supplies are tested regularly. Only drinking-water well samples will be tested. A sample of one ounce of water in any small, clean jar will suffice for the screening.

Samples should be collected before drop off as they must be less than 48 hours old for a valid nitrate result. The following is a list of directions to follow to sample your well:

  • Fill out the water Sample Information Sheet.
  • Pick a tap that supplies water that has not run through any treatment devices (water softener, carbon filter, etc.). An outdoor faucet often works well.
  • Run the water for 20 to 30 minutes before collecting the sample. This will give the pump time to flush the water pressure tank and plumbing so you can collect a valid sample. Disconnect any hoses before collecting the sample; do not sample through a hose. Rinse the sample bottle and lid thoroughly in the water to be sampled, then fill and cap the bottle.
  • Label the bottle clearly with your name, the sampling date and the well name (cottage well, Mom’s well, etc.) using a waterproof pen. Put the sample information sheet into a waterproof bag, and then seal the water sample and the information into a second waterproof bag.
  • Keep the sample dark and cold (on ice or refrigerated) until it is dropped off.

All results are confidential. Results will be given on-site at the MSU Extension office with information on what to do should nitrite or nitrates are found in the water. If you are perusing MAEAP verification, bring your water samples in for screening. If no nitrates are detected, you may be exempt from having to pay for nitrate sampling at the state lab.

More information can be found by calling the Mason-Lake Conservation Office at (231) 757-3708 ext. 3, or from the local MAEAP Technician, Murray Stall, at 655 N. Scottville Road, Scottville, MI 49454, or murray.stall@mi.nacdnet.