Lincoln — Nebraskans with private water wells can have their drinking water screened for nitrates during Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island on September 10, 11, and 12.
To find out the nitrate level in the water they drink, well owners can bring a cup-size sample of water in a clean bottle to the Natural Resources Building, Lot #1106 on the southeast side of the Husker Harvest grounds, East Avenue and Second Street.
Samples can be brought by on Tuesday and Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and on Thursday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. There is no charge for the screening, and results come back quickly.
Because drought conditions continue to exist across the state, wells are experiencing declines in their water tables.
As a result, nitrate, which tends to concentrate in the upper level of the water table, can be drawn down to the point where water containing high nitrate is drawn into the well. For public health reasons, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that private well owners have their water tested for nitrate concentrations and total coliform on an annual basis.
Nitrates are a concern for infants under six months of age and pregnant women, as well as anyone who has a compromised immune system. High levels of nitrates interfere with the blood's ability to carry oxygen and can cause "blue baby" syndrome.
Livestock, especially cattle and hogs, are also susceptible to nitrate poisoning. In cattle it results in lower milk production and loss of calves; in hogs it results in loss of piglets.
In addition to nitrate screening, water supply specialists will be on hand to answer questions, and information on water quality will be available.
The screening at Husker Harvest Days is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health. For more information contact the Water Well Standards Program at (402) 471-0546.
The Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the National Ground Water Association, is proud to promote "Protect Your Groundwater Day" on Tuesday, September 10. The focus of "Protect Your Groundwater Day" is to bring awareness to protecting the state's most important drinking water source – groundwater.