2016 Well Nitrate Testing


Mason-Lake Conservation District is Hosting a free well nitrate testing day for Mason, Lake and surrounding county residents and guests on Tuesday, July 19th at the MSU Extension in Baldwin! You may bring in a water sample in a clean bottle, but be sure that you collect the sample within 24 hours of bringing it to drop off, and refridgerate it if not bringing the sample directly to the office.

Why screen for nitrates?
It is important to screen well water for nitrates to prevent nitrite poisoning in infants, also known as methemoglobinemia, or blue baby syndrome. Municipal water sources have been de-nitrified prior to introduction to the public and do not need to be tested. Due to the lack of contact with oxygen, groundwater from a private well is not easily de-nitrified. Nitrate nitrogen that builds up in the groundwater aquifer from excessive fertilizer inputs or poorly functioning septic systems can therefore be unknowingly introduced to infants by family members, as it has no distinguishing taste, smell or color.
Infants younger than 6 months old are susceptible to nitrate poisoning. Newborn infants have little acid in their digestive tracts for digesting food. Instead, they depend on bacteria present in their digestive system at birth to help them break down food. These bacteria also change nitrate to toxic nitrite (NO2). Generally, by the time infants reach the age of 6 months, hydrochloric acid levels in their stomach rises and kills most of the bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite.
Once formed, nitrite reacts with hemoglobin, the molecule in our red blood cells that binds and carries oxygen, to form a new compound called methemoglobin. This compound interferes with the blood’s ability to release oxygen to the muscles and major organs. As oxygen transfer decreases, babies may show signs of suffocation, even with an unobstructed airway. This condition is called methemoglobinemia. The major symptom from methemoglobinemia is bluish skin color, most noticeably around the eyes and mouth. Death can occur when about 70 percent of the hemoglobin in the blood is converted to methemoglobin. Doctors now recommend using bottled water to make formula when nirtrate-nitrogen levels exceed the U.S. Public Health Service drinking water standard of 10 parts per million.

Candidate needed for Board of Directors

Mason-Lake Conservation District has an upcoming vacancy for a Director position, and we want you! Directors must be residents from Mason County or the west half of Lake County. The new directors will be appointed by our current Board of Directors temporarily until February 2017. If interested, the appointee may then run for election in 2017 to fulfill the remainding year of the 4-year term. A summary of Director duties and responsibilities can be viewed below.

District Directors Duties


We’re  celebrating 75 years of being Mason and Western Lake Counties’ best resource for watershed & groundwater stewardship, wildlife habitat promotion, and soil preservation. Join the party & learn about volunteer opportunities and how you can conserve natural resources on your land!