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Tuesday
Feb122013

Domestic well owner is you’re drinking water safe?

A good supply of fresh water is essential to human existence. We use fresh water not only for drinking, but for bathing, growing food, cleaning, watering animals and watering lawns.  In Nebraska about 95 percent of rural residents get their household water supply from private or domestic wells.  If they are not properly protected, these wells are at risk of being contaminated from several sources.  Potential sources of ground water contamination which may be present near your home include septic tanks, animal waste, pesticides, fertilizers, fuel storage tanks, household chemicals, used motor oil, etc.  The potential for contamination in our area is also increased because of the sandy soil. 

The only way to know if nitrates and or bacterial are present in your drinking water is by testing because both contaminants are colorless, odorless, and tasteless.  A water test for nitrate is highly recommended for households with infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or elderly people, as these groups are most susceptible to nitrates. Coliform bacteria are microscopic, generally harmless organisms that live in the intestinal tract of many warm blooded animals including humans and are excreted into the environment through feces. Although most coliform bacteria are not directly disease causing, some are often found with other, more dangerous strains of bacteria like E. coli, shigella and salmonella. Some strains of E. coli are known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other serious gastrointestinal problems.

As of October 2012, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) listed over 24,960 domestic wells registered in the state.  Domestic wells were not required to be registered with the state prior to September 1993, therefore thousands of domestic wells exist that are not registered with the NDNR.  Unlike public water supplies, the quality of private water sources in Nebraska is unregulated by federal or state mandate.  Thus, well owners are encouraged to have their well water tested and make sure their well is properly maintained to help protect their health and safety.

 

The Upper Loup Natural Resources District (ULNRD) has been a part of an important water quality grant the past three years.  The goal of this undertaking was to obtain a good base of information about the nitrate levels within the district as well as develop a long-term comparable data base system that would support sound management and policy decisions.  I am happy to report that we were able to collect, review and log a significant amount of information in regards to any point and nonpoint contamination problems within our district and found there to be no significant findings or events that occurred.  The District’s average nitrate levels were 3.5 ppm in Domestic wells and 3.2 ppm in Irrigation wells, all which are well below the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 parts-per-million (ppm).

The potential for water contamination is always present therefore water quality requires long term monitoring.  The Upper Loup NRD recommends that all domestic wells, either registered or unregistered, get tested at least once every five years.  Wells in Sub District 3, which includes all of Thomas County and the south third of Cherry County adjacent to Thomas County, are on schedule to be tested this year. We are glad to offer this important safety service to you AT NO CHARGE.  Samples are most often collected from an outside faucet so there would be no need for you to be present at collection time.  If you would like to have your well tested please contact our office at 308-645-2250 or email our water technician at tspencer@upperloupnrd.org to be placed on the list.

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