There wasn’t a cheap and simple way to take field measurements of Total Nitrogen (TN). Samples had to be sent to a lab – until now!
To help reduce water quality testing costs, CT DEEP agreed to allow MS4 communities to use less expensive field tests for nitrate and ammonia to estimate Total Nitrogen. If your TN estimate exceeds 2.5 mg/L then a sample should be brought to a lab to officially determine its Total Nitrogen value. If the results are below 2.5 mg/L, you do NOT have to conduct additional nitrogen testing.
To estimate TN for your sample, plug in your values for nitrate (mg/L) and ammonia (mg/L) into this formula: TN=1.94 x [(nitrate + ammonia) ^ 0.639]
When do I have to sample for Total Nitrogen again?
There are a few situations where the MS4 permit requires towns and institutions to sample for Total Nitrogen (TN):
Dry weather baseline screening:
If you see flow during dry weather baseline screening at an outfall that discharges directly to a waterbody impaired by Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’).
Catchment investigation procedure:
Wet weather sampling of outfalls during the catchment investigation procedure when the receiving waterbody is impaired by Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’).
Impaired waters monitoring:
If there is a waterbody impaired by Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’), you need to sample the wet weather discharge from any MS4 outfall that empties directly into that waterbody.
An easy way to see if there is a Nitrogen (or ‘Nitrogen and Phosphorus’) impaired waterbody in your town, go to the MS4 Map Viewer and click on any purple or red waterbody to see what’s listed as its Stormwater Pollutant of Concern in the pop-up window
Water is part of everything that we do. We are frequently asked about water testing, septic system maintenance, and fertilizing lawns. The Connecticut Institute of Water Resources, a project with Natural Resources & the Environment, has resources for homeowners: http://ctiwr.uconn.edu/residential/
Private wells provide water to 820,000 people in Connecticut, approximately 23% of the population’s water supply comes from private wells according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. These wells are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, although Local Health Departments do have the authority over the proper siting and construction of private wells. It is the responsibility of the well owners to test the quality of the water—it is recommended that you perform a Basic Indicators Test once a year. Additionally, if you notice a difference in taste, color, odor, or clarity contact your Local Health Department for assistance. Well water testing can be done for bacteriological elements, trace metals and minerals, pesticides and herbicides, and organic and inorganic chemicals. Click here to read about what elements you should test for and how frequently.
After your water is tested you should document the date of the test and the results. The EPA has established standards for maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) and the CT DPH has set action levels for certain contaminants. Should your results come back high you should retest the water to verify the results, stop drinking the water until the issue is resolved, and contact your Local Health Department for advice moving forward.
You can get your well water tested at state certified testing facilities. Procedures vary depending on the facility that is being used. Some facilities will send a technician to the location to take a sample and bring it back to the lab for testing. Other facilities allow for the homeowner to collect a sample. It is important to follow their instructions to ensure the proper collection practices and prevent contamination. Proper maintenance and operation of your well water system is important for protecting the water quality. Check out this best management practice checklist for private well owners.
Originally published by the Eastern Highlands Health District