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An effort to identify Lower Valley drinking wells contaminated with nitrates is encouraging Lower Valley residents to have their wells tested.

Helen Reddout, with the group Community Association for Restoration of the Environment, said the Clean Drinking Water Project’s free testing program is open to all residents in areas affected by nitrate pollution.

The testing is part of a federal consent decree following the settlement of a lawsuit against several Lower Valley dairies critics say contributed to the contamination through their farming practices.

Almost 450 drinking wells have been tested, with 169 found to have nitrate levels exceeding the federal safety threshold of 10 parts per million, attorney Charles Tebbutt said at a recent forum on the testing program.

Those whose wells are found with high levels of nitrate can qualify for a free filter system to remove the contaminant, Reddout said.

To sign up for a test, or obtain more information about the program, call 509-831-9430 or email cleandrinkingwaterproject@gmail.com.