WN@tL this week: Nitrates in Wisconsin’s groundwater

This week’s Wednesday Night at the Lab features Kevin Masarik, a groundwater education specialist with UW-Stevens Point and UW-Extension, on the subject “Nitrates in Wisconsin’s Groundwater: What, Why, and Where?” The talk runs 7-8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20 in room 1111 of the Genetics/Biotechnology Center building.

About the Talk: Water testing has shown nitrates to be a widespread groundwater contaminant: one out of 10 rural residential wells in Wisconsin is above what is considered a suitable level of nitrates in drinking water. This talk uses nitrate data from Wisconsin to illustrate the complex relationship between human activities and our groundwater. Specifically, Masarak will explain what nitrates are and how they end up in groundwater, talk about the resulting drinking water and environmental concerns, investigate whether groundwater is getting better or worse with respect to nitrates, and illustrate why some areas are more prone to groundwater contamination. Lastly, short-term and long-term strategies for addressing nitrate concerns will be discussed.

About the Speaker: Masarik is a groundwater education specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For the past 12 years, he has worked with well owners and local communities to organize well-water testing programs. The benefits of these programs are twofold: individual well owners can better understand the quality of their individual well’s water, and researchers can gain a detailed picture of water quality across Wisconsin through collecting data from the large number of wells that are tested.