H2Know Your Well Water Quality Phase II – $3,000
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley is honored to award this grant to the Friends of the Teton River. Rarely does the Foundation fund a similar project two years in a row, but it felt given the broad impact that this program can have on the Teton Valley community, it was important to support the project for a second year. Water quality is a critical community characteristic because many valley residents use well water. The Community Foundation is happy to support this program and hopes it elevates the importance of caring for this most valuable resource.
The majority of Teton County, ID residents rely on private wells as their primary source of drinking water. Private well owners are responsible for the testing (recommended annually), operation, and maintenance of their wells to ensure that their water is safe to drink. However, access to reliable, accurate testing is extremely challenging for most Teton Valley residents. In 2019, the Community Foundation of Teton Valley supported phase I of the H2Know program. Friends of the Teton River organized two well water screening events and worked with a certified laboratory in Riverton, WY to build and distribute 75 test kits to Teton Valley residents who wanted comprehensive well water testing. The kits provided testing for bacteria, nitrates, sulfate, chloride, and fluoride (more comprehensive than previous screenings) and used a certified laboratory for analysis. Friends of the Teton River facilitated the distribution of the test kits and delivered samples to the lab. In reviewing the 2019 results, Friends of the Teton agency partner, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ), had indicated that those results provided evidence that there may be an emerging problem with nitrates in residential wells in specific areas of Teton Valley, and recommended continued testing and monitoring to ensure that residents have access to safe drinking water.
A focused monitoring effort is crucial to identifying the specific nature of the problem, so that appropriate solutions can be developed. Friends of the Teton River will conduct well water testing and education, as recommended by IDEQ as a follow up to last year’s H2Know Program. They will use reduced cost test kits and education to targeted residents and will work with local decision-makers to gather and share critical data to protect the community’s high-quality drinking water. Friends of the Teton River will host at least 2 events to provide education about well water testing recommendations and 2019 test results, and to distribute test kits. Friends of the Teton River will also provide educational materials via email, social media, existing community events such as farmers markets, targeted mailings, newsletters, and will distribute kits on an ongoing basis in its office. Friends of the Teton River will provide detailed instructions about how to use the kits to collect a well water sample and will offer at least two collection events in 2020. Additionally, Friends of the Teton River and its partner IDEQ will host at least one educational event and will organize follow up meetings as needed with community decision-makers, including county and city government representatives, planning staff, and public health representatives. The purpose of these events and meetings will be to share 2019 results and 2020 testing plans, to develop preventative measures to protect our county’s drinking water sources in the face of increasing rural development and to develop a sustainable plan for providing access to affordable, convenient, and accurate well water testing for Teton Valley residents into the future.
It is important that the Friends of the Teton River H2Know Program continues in order to better understand the indispensable resource of water in Teton Valley. With Friends of the Teton River’s leadership, the Teton Valley community can understand and address issues that will have a positive impact on its water quality.