SLOW MOVING WATER — Yakima River underneath blue sky and pleasantly mild 62-degree temperatures on a Sunday, Nov. 17 afternoon. While calm on the surface, luring in waters are pollutants being tested for by the Department of Ecology as a part of its ongoing safe well water campaign. Many of the lower valley wells and groundwaters seep back into the Yakima River, DOE officials say.

YAKIMA — The Department of Ecology has collected samples of groundwater for the presence of dioxins, nitrate, lead and arsenic from 15 wells in the lower valley since Monday, Nov. 4.

“The samples have now been sent to the state lab to determine if the wells have dangerous levels of the chemicals,” DOE Communications Director Joye Redfield-Wilder announced.

Redfield-Wilder said the lab results will be shared with property owners in the areas where the water was collected.

“We expect to have the results by the end of the year,” she added.

“We will sample again next spring and fall to account for seasonal variations and to assure we obtain a good data set over several seasons,” Redfield-Wilder stated.

The DOE’s Environmental Assessment Program is teaming with Yakima County Health District to evaluate well water throughout the area.

Should testing indicate there are harmful chemicals in any of the wells, area residents will be advised to consult with YCHD for recommendations and services.

“Safe drinking water is of particular interest in the Lower Yakima Valley, where much of the population relies on private wells for water,” Redfield-Wilder stated.

The director indicated there are seven private drinking water wells scattered along the Interstate 82 corridor between Toppenish and Prosser, which showed high levels of pollutants. Among those were three wells near the Yakima River that tested positive for dioxins.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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