Nitrate testing available for Crow Wing County residents

Residents are encouraged to bring samples for free water quality testing

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BRAINERD — Private wells should be tested for nitrate every other year.

Nitrate occurs naturally and at safe and healthy levels in some foods (such as spinach and carrots) and comes from natural processes, such as plant decay.

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High levels of nitrate in water can be a result of runoff or leakage from fertilized soil, wastewater, landfills, animal feedlots, septic systems or urban drainage. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends drinking water be under 10 mg/L.

This year, the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District hosted five nitrate clinics in Crow Wing County and tested 113 wells. A nitrate test done at a certified laboratory can cost around $25. This amounts to $2,825 in savings for Crow Wing County residents.

Nitrate testing conducted by the SWCD is not a certified laboratory test; it should be only used as a screening tool.


The SWCD is located in the Crow Wing County Land Services Building for those who would like to test their well.

Residents will need to bring a fresh water sample (taken within one day of analysis) in a container they can leave with the test site. A plastic baggie (double bagged) or clean jar works best. Results are not instant.

To take a sample, a resident should run their cold tap for five to 10 minutes, then collect about one cup of water and keep the water cool until arrival. When they drop off their water, they will fill out a survey about well depth and location to build a county-wide database of nitrate levels.

Questions may be directed to Bethany at or by calling 218-828-6197.

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