MDA to offer free nitrate testing clinic July 18-20 in Douglas CountyThe Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will offer a free nitrate water-testing clinic July 18-20.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will offer a free nitrate water-testing clinic July 18-20 at the County offices located at 900 Robert Street, Suite 102, in Alexandria. Clinic hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The clinic is the latest in a series of water-testing clinics sponsored by MDA. Nitrates are the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater, and in some areas of the state a significant number of wells have high nitrate levels. With that in mind, experts recommend that homeowners who get their drinking water from wells should test their water regularly.
“Nitrates in drinking water can be a risk to human health,” MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson said. “Public drinking water supplies are monitored for nitrates, but it’s important for homeowners with private wells to check their water and take action if their water has high nitrates levels.”
To participate in the testing, homeowners are asked to bring at least one-half cup of water in a plastic baggie or container. To get a good sample, allow the tap to run 5 to 10 minutes before filling the container. Homeowners with distillation units, reverse osmosis or other nitrate removal systems should take two water samples – one before and one after the treatment process. This will determine if the system is working. Homeowners with just a water softener need to take one sample, either before or after the water passes through the water softener.
Samples should be taken no more than 24 hours before the testing and must be kept refrigerated prior to testing. To ensure accurate results, homeowners should mark the container with their name, phone number and a well identification number if more than one well is sampled. Homeowners who wish to remain anonymous should choose an easily recognized “code number” to identify their sample. It is not necessary to provide information about the well or well location.
Samples will be analyzed on the spot – the process usually takes less than five minutes – and results will be given directly to the homeowner. If the nitrate level in a sample is elevated, clinic staff can refer the homeowner to certified labs that will retest the water. For more information about the clinic or how to take a water sample, contact Douglas County SWCD’s Emily Siira by phone at (320) 763-5128, extension 126, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.