Free nitrate screening for town of Sharon well owners Nov. 13

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CUSTER, Wis. (WSAW) -- Portage County staff will offer a free nitrate screening event on Wednesday Nov. 13 at the town of Sharon Town Hall. The screening is for households with private wells in and around the town of Sharon.

Samples will be analyzed on the spot and results will be given directly to the private well owner or private well owners can leave their samples labeled with their contact information and results will be mailed to them after the event.

While most of the wells in Wisconsin produce safe drinking water, about 24% of wells in Portage County exceed the safe drinking water standard for nitrate-nitrogen, according to a news release. Nitrate-nitrogen is one of the most common groundwater pollutants in Portage County.

Most residents living in rural areas rely on private wells to supply their drinking water needs. While public and municipal wells are regulated to ensure that water quality meets current drinking water standards, private well owners must assume the responsibility of testing and treating water to ensure that it is safe to drink.

The screening is a preliminary test that provides an estimate of the nitrate-nitrogen present in the water sample.

If owners are not able to make the event, samples labeled with contact information can be dropped off at the Town Hall on November 12, 2019 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

For private well owners to participate in this free screening opportunity all they need to do is to follow the steps below to collect a sample of water from their well and bring it to the Sharon Town Hall (6704 State Hwy 66 in Custer) on Nov. 13, 2019 from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.

How to collect your sample:
1. Identify a source that is not connected to a treatment device. An outside faucet works best.
2. Locate a clean container with a lid to collect the water sample. Label the outside with your name or address
3. Allow the water to run five-10 minutes before collecting your sample. 4. Fill the container with about a half cup of water.

For more information about this free nitrate-nitrogen screening you may contact Jen McNelly, Portage County Water Resources Specialist at 715-346-1334 or mcnellyj@co.portage.wi.us.