Lincoln – Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island from September 12 through September 14 gives Nebraskans with private water wells an opportunity to screen for nitrate levels in their water.
“We encourage all private water well owners to stop by and see us for this free nitrate screening. It only takes a few minutes to check to see if your water is safe,” said Tom Christopherson with the Environmental Health Unit in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Private water well owners can bring a cup-size sample of their water in a clean container to the DHHS booth in the Natural Resources Building, Lot #1106, on the southeast side of the Husker Harvest grounds, East Avenue and Second Street. Free nitrate screenings are Tuesday and Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Thursday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
If people forget their sample, take home test strips are also available. New this year, if well owners had a new well drilled or worked on in the last two years, they may qualify for free bacteria and nitrate testing from the state lab. Water Supply Specialists will be on hand to interpret screening results and answer questions.
High nitrates are a threat to infants, pregnant or nursing mothers, and even livestock. 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.
Water officials said testing can then be done every other year if nitrate levels are low. If levels are higher, testing is recommended every year.
For more information contact the DHHS Water Well Standards Program at (402) 471-0546.