Nitrate Levels Rising, Open House Public Hearing Scheduled For Thursday

NORFOLK – For over 40 years the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) has been monitoring the groundwater across their 15 counites and have noticed an increase of nitrates.

The groundwater quality has been a growing health concern for the public and the LENRD will be hosting an Open House Public Hearing on Thursday, July 26. From 5 – 7 p.m., visit the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.

One of the primary reasons is to implement best management practices as the district is considering expanding the geographic area of the Phase 2 & 3 Groundwater Management Area in Pierce and Madison Counties.

According to a release, the Phase 2 Area was first established in 1997 and included a 110 square mile area of Pierce County. In 2005, the Phase 2 Area was expanded to include all of Pierce County with the exception of Eastern Township in the extreme northeast corner of the county. The attached map shows the proposed Phase 2 & 3 Areas in Pierce County and Madison County.

Proposed Map phases LENRD 7-25-18

Several health concerns are related to the consumption of high nitrate water. Nitrates can be particularly harmful to infants under six months of age. Excessively high nitrates can lead to methemoglobinemia, a condition that is commonly known as “blue baby syndrome” in which there is a reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, potentially leading to death. Pregnant women and other adults with certain health conditions may also be at increased risk.

Preliminary results from another study also indicate a potential positive link between groundwater nitrates and the incidence of birth defects and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Because of these potential health risks, the MCL has been set by EPA to 10 ppm.

All oral or written comments, suggestions and opinions will be entered into the hearing record during the Open House event.

The LENRD Board of Directors will make a final decision regarding the Phase 2 & 3 Area proposed expansion at their August 23 Board Meeting.

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