The presence of nitrate in a water analysis is a danger signal. This is an indication that your water supply may be contaminated with bacteria. Even small amounts make the water supply suspect. In farming areas of Nebraska, nitrates are a real problem.

According to the CDC, “Nitrates (NO3) can occur naturally in surface and groundwater at a level that does not generally cause health problems. High levels in well water often result from improper well construction, well location, overuse of chemical fertilizers, or improper disposal of human and animal waste. Sources of nitrate that can enter your well include fertilizers, septic systems, animal feedlots, industrial waste, and food processing waste. Wells may be more vulnerable to such contamination after flooding, particularly if the wells are shallow, have been dug or bored, or have been submerged by floodwater for long periods of time.”

Large amounts of nitrate are dangerous to infants. Babies drinking high nitrate water develop a blue color of skin because the blood has a decreased ability to carry oxygen. Continued drinking of the water will cause the baby to become ill, or may even result in death.

Partial removal of nitrate can be accomplished by reverse osmosis. Complete removal may be accomplished by deionization treatment. If the water supply is found to be contaminated, chlorination may be needed to kill the bacteria. If the nitrate content of your water cannot be reduced to an acceptable level through water treatment, we suggest that bottled water be used for drinking.