LENRD sets aside funds for domestic well sampling and treatment program | News
Residents of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District whose domestic well water has elevated nitrate levels could benefit from one of the district’s 2023 priorities.
On Thursday, the LENRD board of directors approved budgeting $40,000 for a domestic well sampling program that could lead to even more help for those well owners. That help would come from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund administered by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE).
Nebraska has awarded NDEE $1.2 million of its America Recovery Plan Act funds to cover the cost of reverse osmosis systems for homes served by private wells with water that has nitrate levels higher than 10 parts per million (ppm).
The NDEE program covers the cost of equipment and installation but does not cover the required water tests, which is why the LENRD board budgeted the $40,000. That money would pay for 140-150 tests, based on the estimated cost of $270 per well.
At the August LENRD committee of the whole meeting, Brian Bruckner, LENRD’s assistant general manager, said 2,419 domestic wells in the district are registered as active, but there are more out there that were installed prior to the state’s requirement for wells to be registered.
The LENRD board will consider the sampling program at its Thursday, Sept. 22, meeting. The program is voluntary but mandates that wells be registered before the district will fund the water tests.
The water samples would be collected by LENRD staff. Tests for nitrates would be done by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Environmental Laboratory. Bacteria tests would be done by LENRD staff, and various other labs would be used to test for other contaminants, such as agricultural herbicides and glyphosate/aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA).
Owners of wells with water exceeding 10 ppm in nitrates would be eligible to apply for NDEE funds for a reverse osmosis filter system. Applications for the NDEE program will begin in January, so the sooner the district can begin its water sampling program, the better.
Wells with the most acute nitrate problems are likely to receive priority, Bruckner said at the August meeting, adding, “and I would think we have as much need as anyone in the state.”
At Thursday’s LENRD meeting, board chairman Mark Hall said it’s a good program because it offers some well owners a chance to get a water treatment system for almost no cost and can help educate domestic well users.
Curt Becker, LENRD projects manager, said another part of the water sampling program would provide some district funds for treatment systems for wells that either test at 5 ppm for nitrates or are positive for pesticides.
That proposal is for the district to pay up to 50% of the equipment and installation costs, not to exceed $800.
Those with nitrate levels above 10 ppm would be directed to the NDEE before they could seek LENRD funds for treatment equipment.