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Free nitrate water-testing clinic coming to Ottertail

Private well owners are encouraged to participate in a free nitrate testing clinic at the Ottertail Community Center on Tuesday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic is sponsored by the East and West Otter Tail County Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Nitrates are the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater – a significant number wells have high nitrate levels.

“Studies indicate that between 5 percent and 25 percent of the private wells in greater Minnesota have nitrate levels above the federal drinking water standard,” said MDA Commissioner Gene Hugoson. “Nitrates in drinking water have been shown to have serious health risks, and Minnesotans need to determine their risks and, in some cases, take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate nitrates in their drinking water.”

To participate, bring at least a 1/2 cup of water in a Whirl-Pak or Ziploc-type plastic bag. Allow water to run five to 10 minutes before filling the bag to get a good sample. 

Homeowners with distillators, reverse osmosis or other nitrate-removal systems should take two samples – before and after treatment – to determine if the system is working. Owners with water softeners need only one sample.

Samples should be taken less than 24 hours before testing and be cool when arriving at the clinic. Homeowners should mark samples with their name, phone number and a well identification if more than one well was sampled. Anonymous testing is an option.

Samples are analyzed at the clinic, usually in less than five minutes. Results are given directly to homeowners.

Referrals to certified labs that can retest water are available if high nitrate levels are found. 

For more information on the clinic, contact Deb Werner at 346-4260 ext. 113, or Katelyn Haarstick at ext. 115.