Grand Island - Nitrates

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The city of Grand Island has taken what might seem to be an unusual step to protect the quality of its drinking water.

The city Thursday excavated a channel about 300 feet long and 30 feet wide in the Platte River. The foot-deep channel was an attempt to keep the city well field from becoming contaminated with nitrates from area farms.

The well field is the city's primary supply of drinking water to Grand Island residents.

The city says past studies have shown when the Platte flows in two channels there is a hydraulic barrier to prevent groundwater infiltration from other areas. Assistant Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger says it there are extended dry periods, the city tends to draw nitrates into its well field from area farms.

The Platte River has been experiencing extremely low flows in the past two years due to severe to extreme drought conditions in the region.

Luchsinger says Routine testing of the well field revealed no problem with high nitrate levels to date.