High nitrate levels close Hampstead well

January 19, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

One well in Hampstead is contaminated with nitrates, but town drinking water is not affected, officials said yesterday.

"There is no health risk," Mayor C. Clinton Becker said. "The water is safe to drink."

Well No. 23, on the east side of Boxwood Drive north of North Woods Trail in the Roberts Field subdivision, was closed Jan. 12, Assistant Town Manager Leonard Bohager said.

Town officials discovered the well was contaminated during a Dec. 27 test, he said.

Residents were never in danger because water from the polluted well was mixed with water from 11 other wells and so was diluted before being distributed, Mr. Bohager said.

Tests of tap water from homes and a restaurant in the Roberts Field area on Jan. 13 showed no contamination, he said.

Officials don't know where the nitrates came from. "We haven't pinpointed it, and many times you never do," he said.

Nitrate is found in fertilizers, sewage and human and animal wastes. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that nitrites pose health concerns at certain levels. High nitrate levels are especially harmful to infants under six months and can cause serious illness or death.

The EPA requires that nitrates in the water supply not exceed 10 milligrams per liter.

The town is required to test its wells quarterly and report the results to the Maryland Department of the Environment [MDE].

In the Dec. 27 test of well No. 23, the nitrate level was 10.5 milligrams per liter, Mr. Bohager said. A test on Jan. 5 showed 10.9 milligrams.

MDE ordered another test to determine whether the nitrate level was climbing, Mr. Bohager said. A test on Jan. 10 showed the level was 11.7 milligrams.

Town officials closed the well when they received the test results two days later, he said. Shutting the well did not cause a water shortage or a change in pressure, he said.

The well must remain closed until MDE is satisfied the nitrate levels are within standards, Mr. Bohager said. A new well in the Roberts Field area is scheduled to be in use within a month, he said.

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