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Free nitrate testing for well water

April 13, 2017

If you get your drinking water from a private well, you can get it tested for nitrate.  Nitrate is a common contaminant found in many wells throughout Minnesota.  It can get into your drinking water from runoff from fertilizer use, leaks from septic tanks, animal waste, human sewage and erosion of natural deposits, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Shallow or dug wells, wells with damaged casings and wells located in areas with sandy soils are the most vulnerable to nitrate contamination.

To get your water tested, bring your water sample to the free walk-in clinic on Friday, April 28th from 8:00am to 4:00pm and on Saturday, April 29th from 8:00am to 11:00am at the Scott County Fairgrounds in Jordan.  This event is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Scott Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and is held in conjunction with the Scott SWCD tree pickup and seedling sale. This clinic is free and open to the public; no appointments are necessary.

How to take your sample
To take a sample, run the cold tap faucet for three minutes, then collect about one cup of water in a plastic baggie (double bagged) or a clean jar. Keep the water cool until you arrival at the clinic. You can collect the water anytime within 24 hour of the clinic. Once you arrive, submit your sample and you will receive the results in 5 to 10 minutes.  You may also collect neighbors’ or relatives’ samples and bring them in for analysis.

If you have a water treatment unit that reduces or removes nitrate-nitrogen such as a reverse osmosis unit or a distiller, feel free to collect a sample before treatment and after treatment to ensure the treatment system is working properly. It is not necessary to collect a sample from before and after a water softener, as softeners do not reduce nitrate.


Why test for nitrate? 
High levels of nitrates in drinking water cause serious health risk to infants, most notably “blue baby syndrome.”  Everyone who gets their water from a private well is encouraged to have their water tested for nitrate, but it is especially important if someone in the household is planning on becoming pregnant or if infants will be using the water.  Even if you have had your well water tested in the past, it is recommended that you get the water tested every two to three years.  More information can be found at


For more information on the walk-in clinic, contact the Scott SWCD at 952-492-5425.

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