News Local/State

New Report Shows Elevated Nitrate Levels In Illinois Drinking Water


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The Prairie Rivers Network has released a new report detailing elevated nitrate levels that have been measured in drinking water in many areas across Illinois.

Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline discussed the report with Catie Gregg, Agricultural Programs Specialist with Prairie Rivers Network.

Gregg says research has shown that exposure to elevated nitrate levels is associated with serious health issues.

“New research is finding that even half of the safe drinking standard, which is what our public water systems follow, is being associated with sometimes twice the level of certain cancers or birth defects," she said.

Gregg says most nitrates come from farm fields, but that things like cover crops and buffer strips can greatly reduce nitrate runoff.

“Nitrates run with water, so when it rains, it starts washing them toward the streams, and you just have a living root there, and it takes it up instead,” she said.

Gregg says conservation programs are much more cost effective than trying to treat the water in public water systems, and that people using private wells may not know if their water has elevated nitrate levels.

You can read the group's full report below.