ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – The St. Joseph County Health Department and St. Joseph County Regional Water and Sewer Board of Trustees are working together on a county-wide plan for groundwater, septic, sewer, and water. A map of the county shows that large portions of the area that use wells and septic tanks, don’t meet the federal safe drinking water standards.
The map measures nitrate levels from groundwater samples over the last ten years across the county.
Nitrates indicate that septic systems have made it into drinking water, which you wouldn’t want to drink.
“A lot of the biological waste that we produce that goes into our septic system is nitrogen. Urine has a high proportion of nitrogen and other things,” said Environmental Health Director Marc Nelson.
The highest concentration of nitrates was found in Granger and the northeast portion of the county.
Nelson said this part of the county is more susceptible to septic system contaminations because the soil is sandier, which makes it easier to seep through.
Nelson said they’re working on a proposal for the county-wide plan. They hope the plan will first point out where and exactly what the problem is, and then develop future possible solutions.
He said septic systems can be a costly improvement to homeowners and they will be sensitive to the impact on the community.
They will make the proposal presentation to the county on February 28th. It must be approved by the county council and commissioners before they can move forward.
For some well waters users, they said the map is an eye opener, and reminds them to keep an eye on their water quality.
“After seeing the map and the colors, I defiantly will be on alert and keeping up with the testing of the water and the septic system for sure,” said Lisa Harwood.
Nelson said if you have concerns about your water you can test it through an independent lab, which could cost as little as $40.