It's a problem that isn't going anywhere, and it's only getting worse-- nitrates are moving into the Hastings water supply.
The water in Hastings is still safe to drink, but it's climbing to unsafe levels quickly.
Nearly all sources of water have some contaminants, including bottled water. But city officials are saying the city of Hastings is rapidly reaching the point of too many contaminants -- namely, nitrates.
Steve Cogley with Hastings Utilities said, "The concentration in the aquifer since we've begun monitoring it decades ago was at 4.7 ppm (parts per million) 15 years ago, now it's about 7 [ppm]. I would call that a fairly dramatic increase."
Water becomes unsafe for consumption when nitrate levels reach 10 ppm, and Hastings officials say there's no doubt it could someday get to that level. Five years ago some individual wells did get to those levels, however it was not the water system as a whole, and those wells were shut down.
"I would say what we're looking at, is to move toward a water treatment plant which we've never had before," said Cogley.
Most nitrates come from fertilizers and other sources of nitrogen.
Hastings residents are welcome to join the conversation and attend Hastings Utilities Board meetings. Find more information for Hastings Utilities at www.hastingsutilities.com.
More information on contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.