Well Water Health Alert- Local Issued

January 4, 2023

Local Public Health Alert

The Cooper County Public Health Center has received reports of two residential wells that have tested positive for elevated rates of nitrates during the month of December 2022. Consumption of water with elevated nitrate levels have been known to cause physical harm to humans and animals. The source for nitrate has not been identified on the well site, however both residences are in rural, heavily farmed row-crop areas. The residential well on the east side of the county had a result of 11mg/L. The residential well on the west side of the county result was 9.7mg/L. The safe drinking limit for nitrates in well water is 10mg/L, any results above the established safety of 10mg/L have resulted in negative health effects and harm.

During times of drought and then heavy rains nitrate poisoning in water may occur. Due to the recent weather patterns, we strongly encourage all well owners to seek testing regardless of their location.  Free testing by appointment is provided by the Cooper County Public Health Center. Please call 660-882-2626 and ask for Randy Strough or Jesse Devillier. Private water testing is another option at the owner’s expense. The health center does NOT maintain a list of private water testing services.

Educational resources are available to learn more about nitrates and water safety are listed below.

Center of Disease Control 



Common sources: Fertilizers, septic systems, animal feedlots, industrial waste, or food processing waste

Removing it from drinking water: Treat water using ion exchange, distillation, or reverse osmosis. Find treatment systems certified to remove nitrate.
Illness: High levels of nitrate or nitrite can decrease the ability of your blood to carry oxygen to your tissues. Infants younger than 6 months may be particularly at risk. Related symptoms can include decreases in blood pressure, increased heart rate, headaches, stomach cramps, and vomiting. 
For further information and the full article please use the following link provided below.



Chemicals That Can Contaminate Tap Water | Drinking Water | Healthy Water | CDC


University of Missouri Resources:

Reviewed by David Brune
Department of Agricultural Engineering

Scott C. Killpack and Daryl Buchholz
Department of Agronomy

Nitrate (NO-) is a naturally occurring form of nitrogen found in soils. Nitrates result from the biological decay of plants, animals, and organic matter. Nitrates in the soil can also result from nitrogen fertilizers and animal manure. Some nitrates in the soil come from the atmosphere through rain or snow. Nitrates are essential to plants for proper growth and development.

Nitrates are not held by soil particles and are easily moved by water. If soil and/or bedrock conditions allow, nitrates can be moved into groundwater. As a result, nitrates can sometimes be found in water at concentrations that can pose serious problems.

For further information and the full article please use the following link provided below.

Nitrogen in the Environment: Nitrate Poisoning | MU Extension (missouri.edu)


If you have concerns about health pre or post exposure you may call your personal care provider or the Cooper County Public Health Center at 660-882-2626.



Melanie J. Hutton RN, MSN




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