Frequently Asked Questions

Qualified property owners are encouraged to call (844) 613-5152, or click here to fill out the interest form to make arrangements for these free services, while funding is available. The State Water Resources Control Board recommends that well owners test the water quality of their wells annually because it can potentially contain either natural or man-made pollutants.

Click here to view A Guide for Private Domestic Well Owners. This guide can help well owners with water quality testing and interpretation, and contains tips to help preserve and maintain a problem-free, clean well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the program?

Free drinking water sampling is available for residents in the Central Coast who get their drinking water from a private or shared groundwater well. This voluntary program is intended to help inform residents who do not get their drinking water from a public water system about the safety of their drinking water.

Most rural residents get their drinking water from shallow private domestic or shared groundwater wells that are susceptible to contamination from various sources. These wells are not typically required to be tested or comply with safe drinking water standards. Available information indicates that groundwater in areas of the Central Coast Region may contain unsafe levels of nitrate, arsenic or other compounds.

What is being tested for?

The free testing is focused on the groundwater contaminants most commonly found in public water system wells statewide, such as nitrate, arsenic, and 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP), in addition to various general minerals and physical parameters. The full list includes:

  • 1,2,3-Trichloropropane

  • Arsenic

  • Nitrate as N

  • Perchlorate

  • Chromium, Hexavalent

  • pH

  • Specific Conductance

  • Total Dissolved Solids

  • Alkalinity

  • Potassium

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

  • Sodium

  • Chloride

  • Sulfate

  • Carbonate as CO3

  • Hydroxide

  • Bicarbonate as HCO3

What will the data be used for?

Well testing results (including well coordinates [latitude and longitude]) will be published on the State Water Resources Control Board’s Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Groundwater Information System (GAMA GIS) website and in publicly available reports. This will ensure accurate water quality data is available for the Central Coast region. Names, addresses, and all other personal contact information will not be included in any of the published reports or online databases. For more information on how to navigate GAMA GIS including viewing and downloading data, please click here to download instructions.

* Analytical tools and reporting features help users assess groundwater quality and identify potential groundwater issues in California.

How do I know if my water comes from a private domestic or shared well?

If you or your landlord receive a water bill and an annual consumer confidence report (i.e., water quality reports) from a water provider, you get your water from a public water system.

If you don’t get a water bill and a consumer confidence report from a water provider, you’re on a private or shared well, and it is your responsibility to ensure your water is safe to drink.

Information and guidance about private or shared wells is available at the State Water Board’s Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program website.

Further information can be found at Community Water Center’s Drinking Water Tool, which provides information about where your water may come from, water quality and water supply data, as well as how to get involved with local water issues.

How do I know if my property is near a nitrate-impacted well?

Click here for the State Water Resources Control Board interactive tool, intended for private domestic well owners to evaluate if their well is near a nitrate-impacted well.

The State Water Resources Control Board also has Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Geographic Information System (GAMA GIS), that integrates and displays water quality data from various sources on an interactive Google-based map. Analytical tools and reporting features help users assess groundwater quality and identify potential groundwater issues in California.

What are the risks of Nitrate?

Available information indicates nitrate levels in groundwater exceed the public health standard in large areas of the Central Coast, particularly in rural agricultural areas. The Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) for nitrate is 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) as nitrogen. Drinking water with nitrate levels in excess of the MCL poses an acute health risk to infants younger than six months and pregnant women because it can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen, resulting in a condition called methemoglobinemia (“blue baby syndrome”). Research has also identified potential links between nitrate consumption and certain types of cancer, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and colorectal, gastric, bladder and ovarian cancer. Please contact your doctor or local county health department if you have any health related questions.

If you want to see if your well is near an impacted well click here.

What are steps I can take if my water has too much nitrate?

If you suspect your drinking water contains unsafe levels of nitrate, don’t drink it, cook with it, or use it to make baby formula. Boiling your drinking water will not remove nitrate – it will increase the nitrate concentration and associated risks. In addition, water softeners and filtering devices do not reduce nitrate in drinking water.

Treatment technologies that remove nitrate include reverse osmosis, ion exchange and distillation. A list of Certified Residential Water Treatment Devices for various contaminants, including nitrate, is available on the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water website, here.

For more information regarding nitrate and other contaminants of concern (COCs) go to the following State Water Board’s Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program website.

You can also check out the Homeowner’s Well Checklist for simple steps to help protect your health and your water well system.

How do I learn more about the availability of free drinking water replacement programs on the Central Coast?

The Regional Bottled Water Program for Central Coast Households provides an immediate source of safe drinking water for low-income households that rely on contaminated drinking water wells through a free bottled water delivery service. The program offers reusable 5-gallon bottled waters delivered to your home every two weeks at no cost, and a manual drinking water bottle pump. For more information, contact Contact Community Water Center at 831.288.0450.

The Salinas Valley Interim Replacement Drinking Water Program is a collaborative effort between the State Water Resources Control Board, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the Salinas Basin Agricultural Stewardship Group, LLC. This program provides replacement water to Salinas Valley households who have drinking water that is above the standard for nitrates. For more information email to obtain an application.

Who should I contact if I have questions about my health?

For health related questions please contact your personal physician, county public health agency, or the California Department of Public Health.

What technical assistance is available if my well is contaminated?

Proposition 1 Technical Assistance (TA) Funding Program

Proposition 1 Technical Assistance (Prop 1 TA) is available to help small (less than 10,000 people) disadvantaged communities (communities with a median household income (MHI) less than 80% the statewide MHI) develop, fund, and implement Prop 1 eligible capital projects.

Office of Sustainable Water Solutions

The Office of Sustainable Water Solutions was created to promote permanent and sustainable drinking water and wastewater treatment solutions to ensure effective and efficient provision of safe, clean, affordable, and reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment services. The office focuses on addressing financial and technical assistance needs, particularly for small disadvantaged communities.

Environmental Justice Organizations & Small Community Assistance

Above is a link that contains reference information for different Environmental Justice Organizations and groups that provide Small Community Assistance throughout the state of California.

Rural Community Assistance Corp (RCAC)

The Rural Community Assistance Corp (RCAC) provides support to small municipal and nonprofit water systems through their Water and Waste Program. This program focuses on maintaining safe reliable drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste systems.

California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA)

The California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) is a nonprofit legal service program created to help California's low-income individuals and communities.

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW)

The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) is a statewide coalition of grassroots groups and intermediary organizations building a collective, community-based movement for democratic water allocation, management, and policy in California. EJCW empowers the most under-served communities, including those of low-income and communities of color throughout California to advocate for clean, safe, and affordable water.

United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS)

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) administers programs that provide much-needed infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to rural communities. These include water and waste treatment, electric power and telecommunications services. All of these services play a critical role in helping to expand economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural households.

For more information about the free drinking water testing, other testing programs, nitrate issues, and information about domestic wells please contact: (844) 613-5152 or fill out our interest form.