Nitrates in Groundwater
Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical found in air, soil, water and plants. Much of the nitrate in our environment comes from decomposition of plants and animal wastes. People also add nitrate to the environment in the form of fertilizers.
Why Test for Nitrates?
Nitrate is the most common pollutant found in rural wells in this area. Nitrate in drinking water presents a serious problem for infants up to about six months of age, and for pregnant women. Too much nitrate in infants can reduce the amount of oxygen carried by blood known as “Blue Baby Syndrome”.
How much is too much Nitrate?
The Minnesota Health Risk Limit for nitrate is 10 mg/L of nitrate-nitrogen, which provides newborns with reasonable protection against blue baby syndrome. This level is mandatory for all public water systems, and recommended for private wells.
Well Water Testing:
The Isanti County Extension Service offers well testing kits (testing options are more extensive than just nitrate). Please call or stop at their office for more information: 763-689-1810
Isanti County - University of Minnesota
MN Extension Service
Main Level, Room #1095
555 18th Avenue SW
Cambridge, MN 55008
Well sealing is permanently closing a well that is no longer used or is deemed unsafe. State law requires abandoned wells in MN to be sealed. Well sealing involves clearing debris from the well and filing it with grout. This must be done by a licensed contractor: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/lwc/index.html
An unseald well can act as a drain, allowing surface runoff, polluted water and improperly disposed of solid or other waste to contaminate groundwater. Sealing abandoned wells protects groundwater quality.
Old unsealed wells can be hard to find. They may be buried under soil or covered by buildings. Sometimes the only evidence is a depression or an old well casing close to a house or outbuilding.
Observation Well Monitoring
The MN DNR sponsors the Observation well monitoring programs which coordinates with SWCDs to collect groundwater elevations in a series of wells throughout the county. Results from this effort are used to assess the overall health of groundwater within the state.
Isanti SWCD is contracted by the MN DNR to collect measurements from 11 observation wells scattered across the county. Results can be found on the MN DNR’s Observation Well Database. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/cgm/index.html