Traces of lead have been found in a monitoring well in Beatrice, just feet away from a private shooting range used by law enforcement in the area.
The small trace was found back in August when the Beatrice Board of Public Works ran their monthly tests. While they came back with a 3.64 parts per billion amount of lead, well below the Environmental Protection Agency's standards of 15 parts per billion, they're not taking any chances.
The Board of Public works says it's not cause for concern just yet.
"One it's a monitoring well, it's not anywhere where people get drinking water from," said Beatrice City Administrator and Manager of Public Works, Tobias Templemeyer. "Second, it's below what the EPA has set for their contamination levels. Third, the monitoring well is actually down-gradient from where the drinking water is, so this water is flowing away from where the drinking water is coming from."
The city has been monitoring that well since 1999, and placed it next to the shooting range, to see what effects lead had on water in the area.
"One of the theories that we have right now is that it's coming from the bullets that are being shot into the shooting range, the lead in those bullets is what's causing the lead to leak into the monitoring well," said Templemeyer.
To be sure, the Board of Public works ran another test in September to see if there were any changes. September tests showed no visible signs of lead contamination.
"What we feel happened was we had a rainfall about that time, it may have washed some of that surface water from the shooting range directly into the well," said Beatrice Water Superintendent, Steve Kelley.'
Kelley says law enforcement will continue to use the shooting range. They've hired Lincoln-based engineering firm, Olsson Associates, to follow up on the results and determine what changes need to be made.