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Home Nitrate Solution With Filtration System, Regular Testing

In 1984, Luis Monge bought an acre of property just southwest of Boardman. It was a place to build a home to raise his family in the small community.

 

At the time, the city’s population was just over 1,200 and a new freeway interchange had been built at Exit 165 to accommodate expanding business at the Boardman Industrial Park. Monge worked on nearby farms and later at Boardman Foods, growing and producing vegetables and other crops.

 

In all the years he lived and worked in Boardman, he doesn’t remember hearing anything about nitrates in the groundwater, even when the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area was established in 1990.

 

“We didn’t know until a couple of years ago that our drinking water had nitrates,” said Monge, who drilled a 130-foot well and installed a septic system when the house was built in 1984. “Two years ago people started talking about it and getting together to have meetings. And we got tested right away.”



 

The test in 2023 showed that Monge’s nitrate level was 29 mg/L, nearly triple the level recommended by the EPA. He was concerned about the health effects it may be having on him and his wife and immediately began looking for a someone to install a filtration system.

 

He contacted Rob Merriman Plumbing in Pendleton, who installed two stand-up filters — one for nitrates and one for iron — directly on the well line in the pump house near his home. All the water for his home passes through these filters, while irrigation water bypasses the system and goes directly to his yard.

 

Monge still tests the well water every month — both before and after it is filtered. He sends the tests to the Kuo Testing Lab in Umatilla to track the nitrate level in the groundwater and ensure his filter is working properly. On his most recent test, the unfiltered water had a nitrate level of 22.8 mg/L and the filtered water tested at 1.8 mg/L.

 

The filtration system cost $3,400 and has an effective lifespan of 3-5 years, depending on use, Monge said. But because of the regular well tests, he knows the system is keeping nitrates at a safe level in his home drinking water.

 

Direct tap filters are also available, which remove nitrates directly from sources of drinking water like the kitchen faucet. The Oregon Health Authority has teamed up with the Morrow and Umatilla county health departments to offer free testing and vouchers for filtration systems. For wells that test higher than 40 mg/L, bottled water deliveries are available.


 Since learning about groundwater issues in the area and testing recommendations for domestic wells, Monge has been vocal about sharing with his friends and neighbors in the community. However, he has found many aren’t receptive.


“I talk to people, and a lot of people are not interested,” he said. “They don’t believe it, and they don’t want to go to a meeting to hear about it.”

 

However, he said the message needs to continue to be spread so people can take steps to ensure they have clean drinking water in their homes.

 

Health departments in Morrow and Umatilla counties are still providing free testing for all residents within the LUBGWMA. To see if you qualify and to sign up for testing, visit www.h2oeo.org.

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