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Drinking water warning announced for Ellsworth

A drinking water warning has been issued for the city of Ellsworth.

The warning indicates that Ellsworth water has high levels of nitrate. Water sample results collected on July 18 as well as Monday showed nitrate levels of 15 mg/L. This exceeds the nitrate standard, or maximum contaminant level, of 10.4 mg/L. Nitrate in drinking water is a serious health concern for infants less than six months old.

Nitrate in drinking water can come from natural, industrial or agricultural sources, including septic systems and runoff. Levels of nitrate in drinking water can vary throughout the year.

People should not give the water to infants. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. Symptoms in infants can develop rapidly, with health deteriorating over a period of days. If symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

People should not boil the water. Boiling, freezing, filtering or letting water stand does not reduce the nitrate level. Excess boiling can make the nitrates more concentrated because nitrates remain behind when the water evaporates.

Adults and children older than six months can drink the tap water. However, if you are pregnant or have specific health concerns, you may wish to consult your doctor.

Ellsworth water system is exploring methods to reduce the levels of nitrate, which may include an alternative water source or water treatment. People will be informed when the public water system has reduced the level below the MCL and meets the standard.

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