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September 2, 2010
Domestic well event attracts crowd

The Santa Fe New Mexican

A private domestic well testing event in Pojoaque on Aug. 28 drew 179 people who brought 186 samples of water for testing.

Good Water Company, a water treatment and testing company, organized the free event. Volunteers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the state Environment Department helped process samples for hardness, total dissolved solids, pH, iron, fluoride and nitrate. Stephen Wiman, owner of Good Water Company, said it took until Wednesday to complete those tests.

But of bigger concern was the amount of uranium in the water. Well owners paid an extra $20 fee to send 116 samples to the independent Hall Environmental Analysis Laboratory in Albuquerque to be tested for uranium. Another 64 will be tested for arsenic. In previous tests in the Pojoaque and Nambé corridor east of the Rio Grande, well water has tested high in uranium.

The Indian Health Service paid the extra fee for water samples brought by people with wells on the nearby pueblos.

"The interest in the community was overwhelming," said Wiman. "It is possible that we will be able to send all results (including uranium) to everyone within about two weeks from now."

Geohydrologists say water in the area is high in naturally occurring uranium — based on the type of isotope found — that has leached out over thousands of years. Tests are ongoing west of the Rio Grande up to Los Alamos National Laboratory to determine if any radioactive waste, including uranium, has leached into groundwater or surface water from lab operations.

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