The Minnesota Department of Health urges private water well users to test their water yearly for coliform bacteria, and at least once every other year for nitrates.
The Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE) offers a $44 basic drinking well-water tests for nitrates and coliform bacteria. Tests are also available for hardness and other common minerals.
Residents can request a kit and collect the sample themselves, following specific instructions. Sample drop-off times are 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesdays at the Stillwater Government Center or the Cottage Grove and Forest Lake service centers.
To promote the testing service, DPHE offers additional drop-off times of 8 to 10 a.m. Wednesday and Sept. 19 at the Stillwater location only.
Coliform bacteria are widely distributed in nature and many are native to the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Although most coliform bacteria themselves are harmless, they are considered an “indicator organism,” and their presence in a water sample may indicate that pollution has occurred.
Nitrates, found in fertilizers and also formed during the decay of sewage and animal waste, are the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater. Too much nitrate in drinking water poses a serious health risk to infants younger than 6 months of age, as well as pregnant women and people with certain stomach or blood disorders.
If you’d like to request a testing kit, or have questions about wells and drinking water, call DPHE at 651-430-6655. More information is also available online at www.co.washington.mn.us/water.
Paper-shredding event Sept. 20
WOODBURY — Washingto County offers a confidential paper shredding event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at the county’s Environmental Center, 4039 Cottage Grove Drive in Woodbury.
The center also offers county residents free year-round disposal of hazardous household waste, electronics and recyclables. The facility also has a Free Product Room residents can browse and take home previously-owned products that include paints, stains, automotive supplies, household cleaners and other products. All items brought to the center are inspected to determine if they are usable.
The center is open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays. Visit www.co.washington.mn.us for more information.
Compiled by Erik Sandin – firstname.lastname@example.org