River Nitrate Levels Running High


December 5, 2014  – Ottumwa, Iowa –  Nitrate levels in the Des Moines River presently exceed safety levels set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.)   The Ottumwa Water Works has been blending river water with water from other sources to keep their treated water under the nitrate limit.    The major sources of nitrates in drinking water are runoff from fertilizer use; leaking from septic tanks, sewage; and erosion of natural deposits.   It is regulated in drinking water by the EPA primarily because excess levels can cause methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby” disease.

Ottumwa Water and Hydro is assuring their customers that nitrate concentrations in Ottumwa’s drinking water do not presently exceed the level that will cause health complications.    Water systems test regularly for approximately 90 contaminants to make sure that no contaminant is present at levels which may pose a risk to human health.   The Ottumwa Water Works tests daily and adjusts the blending rate accordingly to keep nitrates in Ottumwa’s drinking water below the maximum of 10 parts per million established by the EPA.

In the event that the public’s drinking water would exceed the 10 parts per million standard for nitrates, immediate public notification through the local media is required.