A Langlade County Board subcommittee met on Monday to consider a plan to monitor drinking water nitrate levels.
UW-Stevens Point groundwater specialist, Kevin Masarik, made a presentation to the board about county water wells. Masarik found that over 6% of wells tested exceeded 10 milligrams per liter, which is above the amount in safe water. Nitrates enter the water system usually because of agricultural activities and septic systems. The highest concentration of wells with elevated nitrates occurs in the Antigo flats, which is also where most of the county’s residents reside.
According to Masarik, “The concerns of nitrates in people’s water revolves around blue baby syndrome, methemoglobinemia, which is a condition that effects infants less than 6 months of age. It has also been associated with birth defects or miscarriages in humans and also livestock.”
The county’s land conservationist, Molly McKay, is hoping the county will adopt one of the water well monitoring programs described by Masarik. McKay states that the goal is “to have a very clear snapshot of what our drinking water looks like and how our land uses are connected to our drinking water.”
According to Masarik, there are things that can be done to reduce nitrates, such as the use of cover crops and not applying fertilizer and liquid manure on fields without plants. He also notes that because many factors control nitrate levels, homeowners should test well water yearly.
McKay hopes that the county will have a monitoring program in place within the year.