Protecting drinking water “everyone has a role to play”

(May, 6, 2015) Commissioner Ehlinger of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says that nitrate pollution is a growing problem around MN, but we can take action to protect our drinking water. “Everyone has a role to play.

Nitrate nitrogen (nitrate) comes from many sources, including fertilizers, manure, septic systems, and natural decomposition of organic matter. Concentrated sources can release excessive amounts of nitrate contaminating a source of drinking water. Infants (less than six months old) who drink water or formula made with high nitrate water can become critically ill and develop methemoglobinemia (also known as Blue Baby Syndrome).

Nitrate in drinking water is a public health concern. Nitrate is also an environmental concern for aquatic organisms, and it contributes to hypoxia or the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrate is an essential plant nutrient critical for crop production and green grass that’s in fertilizers

The MDH and Anoka County Environmental Services are responsible for safeguarding the quality of drinking water and enforcing the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in Anoka County. Preventing and treating nitrate contamination in drinking water, the theme for this year’s Drinking Water Annual Report, is an issue that affects many public water systems in Minnesota.

Private well owners are encouraged to test their water for coliform bacteria and nitrate nitrogen annually. For more information go to the Well Water Testing  webpage or call 763-422-7063.

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