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July 28, 2023

NDEE Releases Report on Nitrate and Drinking Water

LINCOLN, NE – Today, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) released a mid-year report on nitrate and water quality which includes nitrate data on private drinking water along with an update regarding the agency's continued effort to protect Nebraskans and the state's drinking water supply. NDEE Director Jim Macy said the new report shows that Nebraska’s drinking water quality remains high, and that Nebraska has the necessary tools to continue improving drinking water quality.

“This report highlights that the vast majority of Nebraskans are protected from high nitrate levels in their drinking water,” said Macy. “Because private wells are not covered under the Safe Drinking Water Act, private wells have a higher risk of exposure to high nitrate in drinking water. I encourage Nebraskans, who own a private well and are concerned about high nitrate in their drinking water, to get their well tested. A test costs around $20 and the state has a grant program to help reimburse costs for qualifying treatment systems for private wells that have high nitrate levels.”

The report highlighted some of the following points:
  • 1.65 million Nebraskans (or over 85% of Nebraska’s population) get their water from public water systems that are protected from nitrate and other pollutants under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The SDWA requires that public drinking water be at or below 10 mg/l or be properly treated. Nebraska drinking water quality remains high with 98% of public water systems in full compliance with nitrate requirements.

  • Private wells service 300,000 Nebraskans and are not covered by the SDWA. These well owners can be at risk for nitrate. Updated data reveals that the vast majority of private wells that have been tested are at or below the recommended safe nitrate standard.

  • The state of Nebraska has $1.2 million in grant money available for qualifying private well owners to install a reverse osmosis system that will help protect them from nitrate exposure through their drinking water. Most private wells with nitrate levels of at least 10 mg/L (the EPA safety limit) are eligible for these grants.

A copy of the report can be found here: