Free Water Sample Testing for Nitrates and Nitrites
Mason-Lake Conservation District will be hosting their annual free well water screening days to help homeowners ensure that they have safe drinking water.    Flyer      Form

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 - Bear Lake
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 - Scottville
Saturday, July 27, 2024 - Baldwin

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 - 9:00 am to 3:30 pm - Bear Lake

Wednesday, July 24, 2024 - 8:00 am to 4:30 pm - Scottville

Saturday, July 27, 2024 - Noon to 4:00 p.m. - Baldwin

Please complete a form for each sample submitted.     Form

Mason-Lake Conservation District will be hosting their annual free well water screening days to help homeowners ensure that they have safe drinking water. This year, testing dates will be Tuesday, July 23 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Manistee Conservation District in Bear Lake; Wednesday, July 24 from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Mason-Lake Conservation District in Scottville, and Saturday, July 27 from Noon to 4:00 p.m. in Baldwin. This program is made possible through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), a state-funded grant program held at Mason-Lake Conservation District. This program strives to protect water resources and help agriculture and forest managers to advance environmental stewardship on their lands.

There are several factors that could result in well water being contaminated. With nitrate or nitrite water contamination, factors to consider are the potential nitrogen sources that are present on the surface, 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 if present in the water. 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 will 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 for not only the home, but the farm as well.

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. There is no need to test water connected to a municipal supply.

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 using any small container that has a lid, and must be collected within 48 hours of dropping off the sample. Samples must be at least a 1-ounce sample and must be kept cool (refrigerated) until time of testing. Before taking a sample, water must be run for at least 20 minutes prior to collecting the sample to ensure accuracy. To help with this, a homeowner could collect a sample after having watered the lawn or washed dishes for 20 minutes, to flush water through the plumbing system and ensure water has come directly out of the well. If nitrate levels are at or above the health standard of 10PPM, well owners will be provided with information concerning the risks of nitrates and further steps to take.

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 for further information.

Technical (MAEAP) contact: Andrew Booher, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 231-757-3707 ext. 107 

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