Stockton offers free nitrate-nitrogen screening for private wells

By Patrick Lynn

Portage County staff will offer free well-water nitrate screening on Sept. 11 at the Stockton Town Hall.

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 are responsible for testing and treating their own water.

Free testing will be offered for residents with private wells in and around Stockton on Sept. 11. Samples will be tested on-the-spot between 6-8 p.m.

According to Portage County Water Resources Specialist Jen McNelly, most of the wells in Wisconsin produce safe drinking water, but about 24 percent of wells in Portage Co. exceed the safe drinking water standard for nitrate-nitrogen—one of the most common groundwater pollutants in the county.

A number of potential health risks are associated with elevated nitrate-nitrogen levels in drinking water, she said, but it can be especially dangerous for unborn children and infants younger than six months.

“While water may look clean and taste good, the only way to know that it is safe to drink is to have it tested,” McNelly said in a press release last week.

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 5-10 minutes before collecting your sample.
4. Fill the container with about a half cup of water.

County staff will be on hand to explain water test results and provide guidance and possible next steps.

The Stockton Town Hall is located at 7252 6th St. in Custer. For more information, contact McNelly at (715) 346-1334 or mcnellyj@co.portage.wi.us.