Free Nitrate Testing for Private Wells – September 9

The Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) be will be co-hosting a FREE nitrate water-testing event September 9th from 2 pm to 7 pm.  Nitrates are the most common contaminant in Minnesota’s groundwater.  Since you can’t taste it or see it, many people are not aware it is in their water. 

Much of the nitrate in our environment comes from decomposition of plants and animal wastes. People also add nitrate to the environment in the form of fertilizers.  Elevated nitrate levels in groundwater are often caused by run-off from barnyards or feedlots, excessive use of fertilizer (agricultural and residential) or septic systems. 

“Rainfall and land management techniques can contribute to the presence of nitrate in groundwater,” stated SWCD Administrator Dennis Fuchs.  “As more water moves through the soil profile, it flushes out excess nutrients into the water table.  Areas with sandy soils are more susceptible to nutrient loss with increased rainfall.”  

Too much nitrate in drinking water poses a risk to infants under six months of age, pregnant women, people with reduced stomach acidity, and people with certain blood disorders may also be susceptible to nitrate induced methemoglobinemia. Some research has suggested that nitrate may also play a role in the development of some cancers.  

To keep your drinking water safe, have your well tested annually for nitrate. Continue to properly manage nitrate sources near your well.  Small things like routinely maintaining your septic system and applying fertilizer to your lawn when it is actively growing will help keep you and your family safe.  

The Minnesota Department of Health has reported that nitrate contamination of a well is often regarded as a first sign of deteriorating groundwater quality, accentuating the importance of annual nitrate testing.

Nitrate Water Testing free Event: 

Thursday, September 9th
2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
St. Joseph Township Townhall
935 College Ave S, St. Joseph, MN

How to participate: 
  • Collect water sample from kitchen faucet on September 9th.
  • Keep sample cool and deliver to St. Joseph Township Hall (not City Hall) between 2:00 and 7:00 PM on September 9th.
  • Wait about 10 minutes for results.
  • Discuss results with water expert.
  • Bring photos of well and water treatment equipment if any.
  • Cost share for additional water testing $90.00 value for $40.00.

Water samples should be collected after a cold tap has been left running for 5 -10 minutes.  Collect about 1 cup water in a clean container. Collect sample no more than 24 hours before the test will be completed.  Keep water cool until the tested.  If your house uses water treatment equipment other than a softener, it is recommended to take a sample before and after to determine if your system is working properly, label sample container accordingly. There will also be a cost share opportunity for advanced water testing a $90.00 value for $40.00. 

Check out for additional information or call 320-251-7800 X 3  

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