Clean groundwater is vital to Idaho health and economy

March 13, 2024
IDHW Communications

Groundwater Awareness Week takes place March 10-16 each year. This annual observance was first established 25 years ago and highlights responsible development, use, and management of groundwater. 

The United States uses 82.3 billion gallons per day of fresh groundwater for public and private entities. It’s used for irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, and thermoelectric power, according to the US. Geological Survey.

In Idaho approximately 95% of the state’s drinking water comes from ground water sources, with the remaining water coming from surface water in our lakes and rivers. About one-third of Idahoans get their drinking water from private wells. 

However, private wells are not regulated by any public agency in Idaho, so it’s the well owner’s responsibility to ensure they are drinking healthy water. Testing your well at least once a year for contaminants and routine inspections ensures your best chance at having healthy drinking water for your family. 

There are over 42,00 known residential wells in Idaho. Protecting the water that supplies these wells is an important priority, and it is everyone’s responsibility. Most of the time groundwater is safe, but sometimes it can become contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides. 

In addition, there are many natural germs and harmful chemicals from the environment, such as arsenic, nitrate, and radon. You can’t taste or smell many contaminants, so testing is the only way to know water is safe.
Groundwater wells also provide jobs for geologists, hydrogeologists, and engineers in Idaho, and that helps grow our robust agricultural economy.  

National Groundwater Awareness Week is a great time to learn where your drinking water comes from and how to protect it. Please visit the Department of Health and Welfare’s Environmental Health drinking water webpage or contact the department at 800-445-8647 for more information on how you can protect your groundwater, including testing and maintenance.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening Idahoans' health, safety, and independence. Learn more at

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