Nitrate help in your area: Find your NRD, learn about its resources

Nitrate testing and treatment resources vary widely by Natural Resources District. Flatwater Free Press emailed questions about testing, treatment, and who to contact to every NRD in the state. Find your district by clicking on the map, then look for its answers below.

Jump to your NRD section:

Little Blue / Lower Big Blue / Lower Loup / Lower Elkhorn / Lower Niobrara / Lower Platte South / Lower Republican / Middle Republican / Nemaha / North Platte / South Platte / Tri-Basin / Twin Platte / Upper Big Blue / Upper Elkhorn / Upper Niobrara White / Upper Republican

Notes: Not all NRDs responded. This article was updated on Jan. 3 to include the response from the Upper Elkhorn NRD.

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Little Blue NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

Little Blue NRD offers free testing of nitrates in our in-office lab. Though not a state certified lab, results, when compared to state certified lab results, are very comparable and we have high confidence that the results are accurate.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Little Blue is happy to test any well, but our focus is primarily on private well owners. We would recommend that a municipal well be tested by the State lab, or another state certified lab. Outside of Little Blue’s in-office lab, ServiTech lab in Hastings and Ward lab in Kearney are two state certified labs that Little Blue recommends for the public to have their water tested.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

Little Blue NRD doesn’t currently have direct funds to offer individuals with high nitrates, but we are actively promoting NDEE’s Reverse Osmosis (RO) funding, which will be available in 2023. (The NRD also included lots of program information, which is available online here.) Regarding education, we offer training to producers aimed at individuals who farm in high nitrate areas.This training is required for individuals in two of our high nitrate areas the Little Blue NRD shares with neighboring NRDs, while training is encouraged for operators who farm solely within the boundaries of Little Blue NRD. Little Blue attempts to have robust social media posts and other outreach efforts that educate and address high nitrates. “Know Your Well” is a high school focused program that NRDs across the state take part in and are currently trying to get running again after a hiatus due to the pandemic. For more information regarding this program, reach out to Austin Hill at ahill@papionrd.org.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Tyler Goeschel, Assistant Manager, Little Blue Natural Resources District: tgoeschel@littlebluenrd.org, 402-984-3131


Lower Big Blue NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

the Lower Big Blue NRD offers free nitrate testing of domestic wells to all residents of the district. Residents can call the NRD at 402-228-3402 or email Ryan Thomas at thomas@lbbnrd.net with name, address and phone number to set up a time to sample their water.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

Well owners who have found high nitrate levels in their water are encouraged to work with their local contractor and water treatment supplier to determine the type of system that works best for them.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

If individuals would like more information about having their water tested and how to address nitrates in their drinking water please contact Tyler Weishahn, LBBNRD Assistant Manager/Water Programs Manager or Ryan Thomas, LBBNRD Resources Specialist. NDEE: Reverse Osmosis treatment to remove nitrates from drinking water is eligible for assistance NDEE Publications (ne.gov)


Lower Loup NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The LLNRD provides free testing for nitrates, done in-house utilizing a Hach testing system. The NRD is not a certified lab, however, so for a verified sample reading we encourage the producer (or landowner) to reach out to certified labs in our region. For example, Ward Labs out of Kearney can provide test kits for individuals. Their website is https://www.wardlab.com/ and their phone number is (800) 887-7645. Producers are always welcome to go to the NRD website and request additional information as well using this https://www.llnrd.org/contact/.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Cities and Public Water Supplies test their water routinely to meet state standards in order to provide safe water under the EPA’s maximum contaminant level.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

The NRD offers free nitrate testing for all wells to residents within the district. If a well tests high for nitrate, which is 10.0 ppm or above, additional resources are provided to the producer. This includes the NebGuide titled Drinking Water: Nitrate Nitrogen. This NebGuide can also be found online.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Concerned citizens, whether they have their own private well or get their water provided to them by a Public Water Supply can always reach out to the LLNRD water department for additional information. The best way to contact the NRD is https://www.llnrd.org/contact/.

Additional resources for Reverse Osmosis Systems to reduce the level of nitrate at the drinking water tap will be available from the NDEE, starting next year. Information can be found here.


Lower Elkhorn NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The Lower Elkhorn NRD has a sampling program to facilitate private well owners to collect samples from their well. We will help them test for bacteria, nitrate and two different herbicide/pesticide panels. Both analyses are done by the Water Sciences Laboratory in Lincoln.The NRD pays 100% of the cost for a private well owner who has a registered domestic well.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

We don’t provide assistance to someone on a public water system. Public wells are regulated by the state, they have testing/monitoring requirements set forth by state they have to follow.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

There’s now funding through the state of Nebraska to private well owners to install a treatment system if they have elevated levels of nitrate. We are encouraging people to first analyze water quality to see if they would qualify. If they do, we would help them through the process of trying to leverage the state funds. That’ll be administered by NDEE, and right after the first of the year application materials will be made available to the public to apply for financial assistance. When that is no longer available, we’ve set aside some local funds to continue on with providing financial assistance for well owners whose water needs treatment.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

We don’t provide assistance to public water systems/city water supplies, because there’s a separate pool of money set aside for those particular systems through the state. Plus, any public water supply system needing treatment, can leverage state revenue sources to install a system. Our assistance is targeted toward privately owned infrastructure.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Brian Buckner, Assistant Manager, bbruckner@lenrd.org, 402-371-7313.


Lower Niobrara NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

We test water for nitrate at our office for free. It is the same for everyone, however, water from municipalities is tested regularly in accordance with DHHS regulations and supervision.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

We test water for nitrate at our office for free. It is the same for everyone, however, water from municipalities is tested regularly in accordance with DHHS regulations and supervision.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

Information and education are available for everyone. We have cost share programs for the installation of an RO system or new domestic well for people with private wells that test over 10 ppm nitrate. Where available, we also offer cost share for rural water system hookups.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Again, municipalities are regulated by DHHS on testing requirements and frequency.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Contact our Lower Niobrara NRD office by phone.


Lower Platte South NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

Private well owners are on their own to test the water from their private well. The LPSNRD works with FFA Chapters to hold a “Test your well night” where well owners can bring in their samples to be tested.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

LPSNRD has approximately 350,000 residents (approximately 95% are on public water supply systems). Public water suppliers (cities, towns, rural water districts, HOA’s) do testing and in the case of Lincoln provides a report of the results.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

LPSNRD staff is available to discuss water sample results with well owners and provide information regarding water sample protocol, well depth, well construction, water source (geology), potential contaminant sources, and options.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

NRD Staff – Dick Ehrman- Water Resources Coordinator, or McKenzie Barry – Environmental Education / Communication Coordinator.


Lower Republican NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

We allow for annual testing of non-municipal domestic water wells for nitrates, free of charge.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

We do not pay for municipal testing as this is a requirement of the water operator.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

We recently (within the last 30 days) held seven public meetings across the district. During these meetings we highlighted the free testing, the potential harm of nitrates in drinking water, and what steps are available to address a test showing high nitrates. We also highlighted the recent NDEE funding available for RO systems and are providing assistance to homeowners who may be eligible for these funds. We annually sample irrigation wells across the district for nitrates and provide the results to UNL for use in the Nebraska Groundwater Quality Clearinghouse, which is available to the public.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Funding and other resources may be dependent on the type of system you are on, particularly if there is a high nitrate test. We do not differentiate in our message to the public regarding high nitrate levels in private or municipal systems.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

We train all our office employees on the water sampling process so someone can receive a testing kit as long as our office is open. We are a small office so individuals can contact the general office number and the call will be routed according to their specific need.


Middle Republican NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

A free nitrate and or full drinking water test is available at the Middle Republican NRD office. You can use these tests on either private well systems or municipal water supplies.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

A free nitrate and or full drinking water test is available at the Middle Republican NRD office. You can use these tests on either private well systems or municipal water supplies.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

There is money available through the state fund to reimburse well owners for reverse osmosis systems. Data is collected by MRNRD to monitor the nitrate concentrations in the entire district. We are in the process of determining the extent of contamination and the best method to address nitrate contamination in the ground water supply.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Municipal water is under the jurisdiction of the city.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Alex Boyce Phone: 308-367-4281 Email: aboyce@mrnrd.org


Nemaha NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The NNRD provides free drinking water well nitrate and bacteria testing to District residents. Typically we don’t get requests to test for nitrate and bacteria from residents that are served by a public water supply system.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Water quality from public water supply systems is regulated by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

The District does not provide funds to private landowners or public water supply systems who have found high nitrate levels in their groundwater. The District does provide private landowners with high nitrate levels and/or bacteria with University of Nebraska Extension NebGuides that explain on-site treatment options that are available.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

  • Chuck Wingert, Water Resources Manager
  • Charlie Pierce, Water Resources Technician

North Platte NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

There is no cost to any individuals who would like to test their water, regardless of the water origin.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

There is no cost to any individuals who would like to test their water, regardless of the water origin.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

We provide information to everyone, no matter their water source. Individuals wanting funds for reverse osmosis systems are currently being referred to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy to apply for grant funds.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

We provide information to everyone, no matter their water source.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Contact Scott Schaneman, General Manager or Keelie Williamson, Natural Resources Technician, or Lynn Okicki, Natural Resources Technician.


South Platte NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

None

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

No

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

We will work with landowner to see what nitrate levels are in nearby wells that the SPNRD samples. Several years ago we did do some organic versus inorganic nitrate testing to try and see if the source was commercial fertilizer or possibly from a feedlot. We will also look at the well registration (if any) to try and see where their well is screened. Also, recently NDEE has a program to provide reverse osmosis systems for private well owners; however we have not used this funding yet, but would direct well owners to that funding source.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

On City wells we encourage residents to contact their city/village as those wells are tested regularly. We do not provide any water testing for municipal wells.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Depends on the particular question, but several of our staff are capable of helping. If you call the office number, you will be directed accordingly.


Tri-Basin NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The Tri-Basin NRD will test private domestic wells for nitrates and bacteria for free.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

A city or municipality must test the water quality in their system. All citizens must do is request the results.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

The Tri-Basin NRD offers information about how to treat their water if needed. The state now offers a grant program for RO systems for those whose water tests higher than 10 ppm.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Pat Nott is the one who tests domestic wells. John Thorburn would be the person to talk to if you would like to address the resources offered.


Twin Platte NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The TPNRD does not provide funds or free testing for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate. If the TPNRD receives an inquiry for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate, they are referred to private labs who offer this service.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

Not applicable (The Twin Platte Natural Resources District (TPNRD) is very fortunate as our annual testing program of irrigation wells shows no nitrate levels above 10 PPM except for a very small area west of Ogallala, NE and south of the South Platte River where over the years we have seen some levels slightly over 10 PPM. In that area, those levels are not increasing and no municipal wells are located in that area.)

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

  • Kent Miller, General Manager
  • Glen Bowers, Water Programs Field Coordinator

Upper Big Blue NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The Upper Big Blue NRD offers free water quality testing to district residents. Residents can bring a sample to the office for a lab test for nitrates and bacteria, or they can request an at-home test be mailed to them that tests for nitrate, nitrite and phosphorus. These services are available to anyone, though it is recommended for those on private well water to have their water tested annually via the NRD or other entity.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Those on municipal water systems should be having their water monitored for them at the municipal level.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

For individuals who request an at-home test and find their nitrate levels are approaching or have surpassed the EPA recommendation for safe drinking water, we suggest that they bring in a water sample to the office to receive a more precise analysis (the at-home test provides a range instead of a precise level) then a recommendation is made to the well owner about whether or not to continue drinking the water from their current source, or if they should install a reverse osmosis system. The NRD does not offer a cost-share opportunity for RO systems, however, we are promoting the state funded RO program through NDEE.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

For communities, we offer a municipal assistance program (full details attached) that provides up to $100,000 in cost-share for improvements to a water system to mitigate the impacts of non-point source groundwater contamination for the protection and public health of the community’s residents.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

For questions concerning private well water quality or the municipal assistance program at the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District, contact Marie Krausnick at 402-362-6601.


Upper Niobrara White NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The UNWNRD will collect one free sample each year for domestic wells. The test is for Total coliform bacteria, nitrate, chlorides and sulfate.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Samples are not obtained from public water supplies that are regulated by the State of Nebraska – NDEE.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

The UNWNRD will work with individuals to address high nitrates in domestic wells. Initially, there will be an evaluation to determine if the problem is a well construction issue or a groundwater quality issue. Cost share funds of up to 50% will be provided for reverse osmosis systems or in some cases re-drilling a well.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Haley Anders, Water Resources Manager 308-432-6190.


Upper Elkhorn NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The Upper Elkhorn NRD will analyze water samples for free at various county fairs, farm and home shows. If an individual brings in a water sample to the office we will test it for minimal fee. Nitrate-$7, Bacteria $15 and House hold complete is $28.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Anyone can bring in a water sample and have it analyzed whether it is urban or rural.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

When a sample is analyzed, we will provide them with NEBGuides and advise them to consult with their physician if they are concerned with their results, especially if the results is over the Federal Health standard of 10 ppm. We will also discuss with them options to bring the nitrate levels below the Federal Health Standard. Options are a reverse osmosis, distiller or even drilling a new well. We do provide costshare to individuals that have wells that test over the Federal Health Standard. Those options are for: reverse osmosis, distiller or even drilling a new well.

Is this different for individuals on their own private well versus on a neighborhood well or city water?

Anyone can bring in a water sample and have it analyzed whether it is urban or rural.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

Joslynn VanDerslice, Water Resources Manager 402-336-3867


Upper Republican NRD

What resources (funds, free testing, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who want to test their water for nitrate?

The Upper Republican Natural Resources District samples every domestic water well in our District, unless the owner does not want it sampled. In addition we provide free testing to anyone who collects a sample from their own well.

What resources (funds, education, etc.) are available in your area for individuals who have found high nitrate levels in their water?

We provide information on steps to address common issues as well as providing information related to any specific results from the testing conducted.

Who at your NRD should an individual contact for more information about resources available related to water testing and/or addressing high nitrate levels in their water?

For further assistance or information they can call the main office and Deb Hayes can get them in touch with the appropriate staff.


By Sara Gentzler

Most recently, Sara was an enterprise reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where she covered the ultra-dramatic 2022 gubernatorial primary race. Before that, as a state government reporter, she broke stories on Nebraska footing the bill (and refusing to admit it) for deploying state troopers to the southern border and its practice of inking millions in no-bid pandemic contracts with an out-of-state company. She graduated from Gretna High School and Creighton University and ultimately returned to Nebraska from Washington state, where she covered state government for The Olympian and three other newspapers. She and her husband, Alex, welcomed identical twin boys in June. They’re excited to introduce them to Omaha’s parks and music scene.