Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
September 5, 2014

Contact Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or marla.augustine@nebraska.gov

Public service announcement about this event from Jack Daniel, administrator of the Office of Drinking Water and Environmental Health, can be found at www.dhhs.ne.gov/audio

Free Water Screening Offered at Husker Harvest Days

Lincoln—Nebraskans with private water wells can have their drinking water screened free of charge for nitrates during Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island on September 9, 10, and 11. The screening is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health.

To find out the nitrate level in the water they drink, well owners can bring a cup-size sample of water in a clean bottle to the Natural Resources Building, Lot # 1106 on the southeast side of the Husker Harvest grounds, East Avenue and Second Street. Samples can be brought by on Tuesday and Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and on Thursday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can get the results while you wait. DHHS field representatives will be available to provide advice to well owners.
 
“Testing private water wells for nitrates is something that should be done at least once a year, in mid to late summer,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and director of the Division of Public Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. “Nitrates are a concern for infants under six months of age and pregnant women, as well as anyone who has a compromised immune system. High levels of nitrates interfere with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen and can cause ‘blue baby’ syndrome.”

Because drought conditions continue to impact the state, even with recent rains, wells are experiencing declines in their water levels.  As a result, nitrate, which tends to concentrate in the upper water levels, can be drawn down to the point where water containing high nitrate is drawn into the well. 

Livestock, especially cattle and hogs, are also susceptible to nitrate poisoning. In cattle it results in lower milk production and loss of calves; in hogs it results in loss of piglets.
In addition to nitrate screening, water supply specialists will be on hand to answer questions, and written information on water quality will be available. For more information contact the Water Well Standards Program at (402) 471-0546.

The Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the National Ground Water Association, is proud to promote “Protect Your Groundwater Day” on Tuesday, September 9. The focus of “Protect Your Groundwater Day” is to bring awareness to protecting the state’s most important drinking water source – groundwater.
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