Researchers Check Wells For Nitrate Pollution

By Trish Svoboda

Kansas State University geology professor Matthew Kirk and his collaborators check private wells for nitrogen pollution.

Researchers aim to test around 150 private wells in 7 south-central Kansas counties, including Barton, Edwards, Kiowa, Pawnee, Rice, and Stafford. Scientists and students from Barton and Dodge City community colleges, and K-State collectively have tested about 90 wells so far. They found over half of those contain more nitrate than federal regulators allow in public water systems.

Scientists are investigating suspicions that drinking too much of these nitrogen compounds is linked to serious health complications in children and adults.

Federal standards require public water sources to be treated to reduce nitrate levels as needed. The same rules, however, do not apply to public wells, often leaving people in the dark about what’s in their groundwater.

The National Environmental Health Association estimates 150,000 – 175,000 Kansas residents use groundwater from private wells.

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