Nitrate Map Tazewell County

Story from the Field: Large Increase in Private Water Well Nitrate Levels

Oct 21, 2021 | Sarah Brubaker, Tazewell County Health Department

Tazewell County Health Department has found an increase in nitrate sample results >10mg/L in private water wells and wanted to ensure the surrounding homes were aware of the risks and solutions to high nitrates.

Tazewell County was seeing a higher number of nitrate samples exceeding 10milligrams per liter (mg/l). Due to the public health significance in increases, we wanted to be proactive and help our community become more aware of the risk of high nitrates in their area and provide them with a better understanding of what high nitrate levels means for them.

Using our County GIS office and previous lab samples, we created an interactive map showing us where in the county had the highest nitrate results so we could identify the clusters. Once we identified the cluster areas, we mailed a letter and an educational informational pamphlet to those homes in the clusters. In the letter, we offered free nitrate screenings to the homeowners that brought a sample into our office in Tremont, Illinois. The Central Region Groundwater Protection Committee provided funding to purchase the nitrate test screenings.

This project is still new and ongoing. We are still receiving samples from our target area. So far, we have received 2 samples from our first target area and both were found with screening results above the acceptable limit for Nitrates. One was actually 50mg/L way above the MCL limit.

One lesson we have learned so far is that it can be difficult to reach the population in these areas. Some of the properties do not have mail receptacles or are rental properties. Our first target area had several letters returned to sender. We are currently brainstorming on better ways to reach these communities such as setting up dates/times at a public facility closer to the cluster areas to make it easier to have clients reach us for nitrate screening.

For more information, contact Sarah at sbrubaker@tchd.net.


About Sarah Brubaker, Tazewell County Health Department

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