The Wadena Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will offer a free nitrate water-testing clinic at the Wadena County Fair on June 17 and 18 from 2 to 6 p.m.

Nitrates are the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater, and in some areas of the state a significant number of wells have high nitrate levels, according to a SWCD news release. Experts recommend that private well owners who get their drinking water from wells should test their water regularly.

To participate in the testing, homeowners are asked to bring at least one-half cup of water in a clean plastic or glass container. To get a good sample, allow the tap to run five to 10 minutes before filling the container. Homeowners with distillation units, reverse osmosis or other nitrate removal systems should take two water samples: one before and one after the treatment process to determine if the system is working. Homeowners with just a water softener need to take one sample, either before or after the water passes through the water softener.

Samples should be taken no more than 24 hours before the testing and must be kept refrigerated prior to testing, according to the release. To ensure accurate results, homeowners should mark the container with their name, phone number and a well identification number if more than one well is sampled. It is not necessary to provide information about the well or well location.

Samples will be analyzed on the spot, which usually takes about five minutes, and the results will be given directly to the homeowner. If the nitrate level in a sample is elevated, clinic staff can refer the homeowner to certified labs that will retest the water.

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For questions about the clinic or how to take a water sample, contact the Wadena SWCD at 218-632-4201.