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Thu Apr 25, 2019, 06:52 AM

15% Of Iowans Get Their Water From Private Wells, Where Nitrates, Coliform Continue To Build Up


Using data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that tracks private wells, the report lays out the extent of the contamination in those water sources. Not every private well in Iowa is included because many were built before the state required well-testing during construction. An estimated 230,000 to 290,000 Iowans — out of just over 3 million people in the state total — rely on private wells for their drinking water, but only 55,000 wells in the state were tested for either nitrate, bacteria, or both between 2002 and 2017.

During the 16-year period examined by the report, almost 75% of private wells had unsafe levels of nitrate, coliform bacteria, and fecal coliform bacteria — contaminants that can lead to elevated cancer risks and birth defects. The EPA says there is no safe level of coliform bacteria in water. But of the wells tested, more than 40% tested positive for that bacteria at least once, with more than 4,300 wells testing positive every time. Around 12% of wells tested meanwhile had nitrate averages above the legal limit of 10 parts per million established by the EPA. That standard has been challenged by studies indicating an increased risk of cancer can occur following lower exposure levels and the report found that 22% of private wells in Iowa had nitrate levels within that lower range.

Exacerbating the issue even further is a lack of monitoring. Neither the state of Iowa nor the federal government requires private wells to be tested or regulated, something the report argues is dangerous and leaves the owners of those water sources to deal with the problem themselves. “A lot of people don’t know what to do… I really think the EPA could be doing more oversight there,” said Schechinger, who noted that the agency allows states to control their own water and could likely expand its authority more to provide assistance for private well waters facing contamination. That could include anything from financial help to educational outreach, she said.

Iowa’s water contamination issue, and the government’s insufficient response, illustrates a wider problem being experienced in other parts of the Midwest and the country. Schechinger said Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are grappling with similar well contamination problems, along with parts of rural California, Texas, and Oklahoma.



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Reply 15% Of Iowans Get Their Water From Private Wells, Where Nitrates, Coliform Continue To Build Up (Original post)
hatrack Apr 2019 OP
wasupaloopa Apr 2019 #1
hatrack Apr 2019 #2

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 07:29 AM

1. Most likely they have a reverse osmosis filter. We used to live in a the boonies and had a well


Out of the well the water was not potable. But going through the filter it was like bottled water. The filter was well maintained

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Response to wasupaloopa (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 08:07 AM

2. Possibly . . .

I remember, though, being in NE Iowa about 15 years ago. We stopped at a diner, and there was a sign in the restroom warning people not to drink the tapwater because of high nitrate levels.

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