Major Study of Contaminated Water Shows Progress, Challenges Ahead

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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(Photo Credit: DEE J. Hall | Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

Article courtesy of | Jan 17, 2016 | Wisconsin State Journal | Shared as educational material

Drinking water contaminated with more than 10 milligrams per liter of nitrate poses acute risks to infants and women who are pregnant, a possible risk to fetuses in early stages of pregnancy, and a longer-term risk of serious disease in adults. A study of well contamination tests shows high levels of toxic nitrate is turning up a little less frequently in Dane County-area drinking water and urgs broader efforts to limit farm fertilizer use that is the primary source of contamination.  The government efforts to entice farmers into statewide programs designed to control fertilizer and manure spreading aren’t likely to substantially offset powerful market forces that drive up nitrate pollution. Another major component in fertilizer and manure, phosphorus, contributes to abnormal algae growth in lakes and streams when it runs off the land with rain and snowmelt. Nitrate behaves differently. Relatively little lingers near roots where it can be absorbed. Water washes it down into shallow groundwater that is the source of drinking water for one-quarter of Wisconsin residents.

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