2019 Free Well Water Screening

Water TestingWhy should you be worried about knowing how much nitrate is in your drinking water?   Nitrates and nitrites are molecules made of nitrogen and oxygen that can combine with various organic and inorganic compounds. When high nitrate levels enter the blood stream, the bloods’ ability to carry oxygen can be severely and negatively impacted. This condition can be especially dangerous in young babies less than 6 months old, causing a disease commonly referred to as “blue baby syndrome”. High nitrate levels may also be detrimental to the health of pregnant women and individuals who already have diseases or conditions that impact their bloods’ ability to carry oxygen.

High nitrate levels in water can be caused by multiple factors; however, the major sources include runoff from fertilizer usage, sewage leaking from septic tanks, and erosion of natural deposits within the aquifer.

Samples can be brought to the Ionia Conservation District office at 431 Swartz Ct, Suite #300, Ionia. There is no fee to participants. The screening is open to everyone who uses a personal well for drinking water. The number of samples that can be tested is limited to 3 per household.  Please contact the Ionia Conservation District at 616.527.2098 for dates and times.

This service is for private drinking water wells only. Please do not bring samples from public water supplies (as these are already tested regularly), or non-drinking water sources. A one-ounce sample of water is sufficient, and can be transported in any small, clean jar. Directions for collecting a good water sample inlcude:

1. Collect samples just before getting them to the sample drop-off. Samples must be less than 48 hours old for a valid nitrate test.

2. Fill out the water sample information sheet. A copy of this form will be available when samples are dropped off; a printable form is also available by clicking here: Water Screening Information Sheet

3. Pick a tap that supplies water that has not run through any treatment devices (water softener, carbon filter, etc.). An outdoor faucet often works well.

4. Run the water for 20 – 30 minutes before collecting the sample. This will give the pump time to flush the water pressure tank and plumbing so you can collect a valid sample. Disconnect any hoses before collecting the sample; do not sample through a hose. Rinse the sample bottle and lid thoroughly in the water to be sampled, and then fill and cap the bottle.

5. Label the bottle clearly with your name, the sampling date and the well name (cottage well, Mom’s well etc.) using a waterproof pen. Put the sample information sheet into a waterproof bag, and then seal the water sample and the information page into a second waterproof bag.

6. Keep the sample dark and cold (on ice or refrigerated) until it is dropped off.

All results are confidential. Participants will be mailed a copy of their results in 8 to 10 weeks, with information about what they can do if the concentration of nitrate or nitrite is too high.

This screening is sponsored by the Ionia Conservation District and the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). It is paid for by funds generated from the Michigan pesticide and fertilizer registration and tonnage fees.