A new analysis suggests the average level of nitrate contamination in private wells of the nation’s top corn-producing state nearly doubled between 2002 and 2017, but is still below legal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. An Environmental Working Group and Iowa Environmental Council report says nitrate levels rose from 3.1 parts per million in 2002 to 5.7 ppm in 2013. Over a 16-year period, about 55,000 wells in Iowa’s private well tracking system were tested for nitrate, bacteria or both. The state has more than 380,000 wells. Iowa Department of Natural Resources recommends wells be tested annually but does not require testing on private wells. The EPA considers the legal limit of nitrate levels in the drinking water to be 10 ppm. EWG’s study claims more than 6,600 private Iowa wells tested positive above the legal limit. Some 250,000 Iowans rely on private wells for their drinking water.

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