Nitrate contamination study shows high risk in well water

KIMT News 3 – Drinking water wells in southern Minnesota are at great risk of contamination, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota say that the conversion of grasslands to agricultural fields, is playing a factor in the amount of nitrates seeping into private wells.

More than 45 percent of private drinking wells are believed to have been contaminated between 2007 and 2012.

The analysis focuses on 11 counties in Southeastern Minnesota. It’s a region they classified as highly vulnerable to groundwater contamination.

The researchers used publicly available well data and nitrate chemistry readings to predict how changes in land use will affect the likelihood of well contamination.

It’s contamination, which they say has led to millions of dollars in costs to help fix the issue.

“If you look at the trends in the region, and where all agriculture is expanding, we found that those places were likely to have a number of wells that were contaminated. These nitrates lead to significant costs to rural households,” said lead scientist, Bonnie Keeler.

Many private well owners have since moved toward installing new wells, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Some have also installed reverse osmosis water filters to eliminate any contamination from their water.

 

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