We're celebrating over 75 years of being Mason and Western Lake Counties' best resource for groundwater and agricultural stewardship, forest management, wildlife habitat promotion and soil preservation.

Covid update

In response to the COVID regulations provided by DHHS and MIOSHA, our staff will largely be working from home as of November 19, 2020. We will have one staff person in the office daily to answer phones and return messages. We plan to continue field visits to farms and private properties. Staff will be wearing masks for any in-person interactions during field visits, and a six foot distance between people will be maintained. 

We can still help you with our full array of services, including signing up for programs, technical advice, purchases of books, and products. If you aren't sure who to contact, please visit our Contact Us page, call or leave a message at our office at 231-757-3707 ext. 5. We look forward to hearing from you!

Free Water Sample Testing for Nitrates and Nitrites

This year, testing dates will be Wednesday, July 21st from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Mason-Lake Conservation District in Scottville;

Thursday July 22nd from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Manistee Conservation District in Bear Lake, and Friday July 23rd from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Elk Township Hall in Irons.  Click here to view a flyer.

Submit this form with each sample.

There are many factors that could lead to your drinking water being contaminated. With nitrate or nitrite water contamination, factors could include the potential nitrate sources that are present, the type of soil and bedrock, and the depth and construction of the well. Nitrate sources could include fertilizer (from farming and homeowners’ yards), animal wastes, septic systems, or municipal and industrial sewage treatment systems.

All infants under the age of six months could be at a risk of nitrate poisoning. Using water that is high in nitrate and/or nitrite for feeding or formula mixing, can lead to a condition called blue baby syndrome and can be fatal. Infants exposed to nitrates and ultimately lose the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood, depriving them of oxygen. Blue baby syndrome symptoms include, diarrhea, vomiting, and/or being sluggish or tired. In serious cases, a bluish color will appear on skin, lips, and around fingernails. Nitrate poisoning isn’t only a concern in humans, it can also happen in livestock, especially ruminant animals, such as cattle and sheep. Therefore, it is important to get your water tested for contaminants.

Nitrates cannot be detected through sight, taste, or smell. The only way to test for nitrates is by chemical testing. Once a year, the Mason-Lake Conservation District hosts a free private well water testing day. Anyone with a private well can bring in water samples to get tested for nitrates. Water sample forms can be completed in person at the time of testing, or can be printed from the Mason-Lake Conservation District website. Samples can be collected with any small container that contains a lid, and must be collected no more than 48 hours in advance. Samples must be at least a 1-ounce sample and must be kept cool (refrigerated) until time of testing. Also make sure to run water for at least 20 minutes prior to collecting the sample to ensure accuracy. If nitrate levels are at or above the health standard of 10PPM, well owners will be contacted with information concerning the risks of nitrates and further steps to take.

This year, testing dates will be Wednesday, July 21st from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Mason-Lake Conservation District in Scottville; Thursday July 22nd from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Manistee Conservation District in Bear Lake, and Friday July 23rd from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Elk Township Hall in Irons. This program is made possible through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), hosted by the Mason-Lake Conservation District. This program strives to protect groundwater and help agriculture and forest managers to advance environmental stewardship on their lands.

If well owners wish to do additional testing, the local health department can do testing for bacteria and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has additional tests available for other drinking water contaminants. Call the Mason-Lake Conservation District office at (231) 757-3707 ext. 5 or visit www.mason-lakeconservation.org for further information.

Media contact: Dani McGarry, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 231-757-3707 ext. 102
Technical (MAEAP) contact: Justin Brown, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 231-757-3707 ext. 109