Conservation District offering well testing for nitrate.

July 5, 2016
Jordan DeVries

Jordan DeVries


SCOTTVILLE — The Mason-Lake Conservation District is offering well screening day on Tuesday, July 12 at the district’s office, located in the US Department of Agriculture Service Center, 655 N. Scottville Road.

The conservation district, as part of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance (MAEAP) is offering the free nitrate testing service from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. that day. Testing participants are being asked to pick up a free, sterile sample bottle with lid if they do not have a container to carry their water samples with.

Jordan DeVries, administrator/MAEAP technician, said participants are encouraged to use the sterile containers rather than their own bottles or jars, to assure the most accurate results.

DeVries said nitrate testing is important to prevent nitrite poising in infants, also known as methemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome.

Due to the lack of contact with oxygen, groundwater from a private well is not easily de-nitrified. Nitrate nitrogen that builds up in the groundwater aquifer from excessive fertilizer inputs or poorly functioning septic systems can therefore be unknowingly introduced to infants by family members, as it has no distinguishing taste, smell or color.   

Infants younger than 6 months old are susceptible to nitrate poisoning, DeVries said. “Newborn infants have little acid in their digestive tracts for digesting food. Instead, they depend on bacteria present in their digestive system at birth to help them break down food. These bacteria also change nitrate to toxic nitrite (NO2). Generally, by the time infants reach the age of 6 months, hydrochloric acid levels in their stomachs rise and kill most of the bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite.”

People whose homes are serviced by municipal water systems, such as residents of the cities of Ludington and Scottville, and parts of Pere Marquette and Amber townships, do not need to have their water tested, DeVries said.

Anyone with questions may contact DeVries at or 231-757-3707.


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