Nebraska community water systems regularly test drinking water to insure that it is safe. Rural residents in Gosper, Phelps, and Kearney Counties also need to know whether they have safe drinking water. The district offers a program that allows rural residents to have their household drinking water tested for nitrates and bacteria free of charge once a year.
Test results go to the Tri-Basin NRD office, where they are recorded in a water quality database. Results are forwarded to rural residents, along with information on protecting water quality. If you would like more information about this program, email Tri-Basin NRD at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (877) 995-6688.
Nebraska Waves has some short informational videos: Nitrate in Nebraska Basics, Nebraska's Nitrate Challenge, and Nitrate and Human Health.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has published a series of NebGuides called "Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies," designed to help rural families protect their drinking water. Click on one of these links to read the NebGuides:
Drinking Water Treatment
Reverse Osmosis Rebate Program
How do I apply?
The application for the RO Rebate program is available at http://dee.ne.gov/Publica.nsf/pages/22-051. Before filling out this application, several things must be in place.
Step 1. WATER QUALITY TESTING: The water from your well must be tested for nitrate through the Department of Health and Human Services State Laboratory after January 1, 2022. To order a state lab kit, go to https://www.nebraska.gov/dhhs/water-test-kits/private.html. Once you've ordered a kit, it will be mailed to you. Follow the instructions included in the kit to test your water within 90 days and mail it back. If your nitrate concentration is higher than 10ppm, you may be eligible for the rebate program.
Step 2. WELL REGISTRATION: The next step is to check your well registration at https://nednr.nebraska.gov/Dynamic/Wells/Wells. If your well is registered, move on to the next step. Wells that were installed after September of 1993 will be registered. If it's not registered, go to Forms | Department of Natural Resources (Nebraska.gov) choose Landowners and follow the instructions to get it registered. Sandpit and hand-dug wells will not be eligible for this program.
Step 3. COST ESTIMATE: If you've got a nitrate concentration above 10 ppm and a registered well, the next step is to get a cost estimate from one of the following:
- Licensed plumber
- Entity that has performed at least 5 successful private well reverse osmosis small water treatment installations.
This cost estimate must contain
- A written clause that states the installer "will not charge...for the installation....unless the post-installation testing results [of the water] through the DHHS Laboratory show levels of nitrate less than 10 ppm.
- A Treatment Systems Certification for the removal of nitrate
- Documentation that shows the system will have a Performance Indication Device to alert the user when the system is not meeting treatment standards.
For installations that cost more than $2,000 contractors and subcontractors must document that laborers on the project will be paid wages established per the Davis-Bacon Act for the residential plumber classification.
Step 4. FILL OUT THE FORM AND SUBMIT: Once you have your cost estimate in hand, you can fill out the form at http://dee.ne.gov/Publica.nsf/pages/22-051 and submit.
Receiving the Rebate
After an RO system has been installed, the applicant will have to provide some information to the NDEE, including:
- Citizen Attestation Award
- Confirmation that the plumber/installer is in good standing
- Post-installation test results from the DHHS State Laboratory
- Other applicable provisions
More information on the Reverse Osmosis Rebate Program, along with the application forms and an instructional video can be found on the NDEE website. Inquiries can also be made to NDEE State Revolving Fund Section Supervisor Steve McNulty at email@example.com or (402) 471-4200.
Reverse Osmosis In-Service: Treating high nitrate concentrations in private wells
Reverse Osmosis In-Service Training for Extension professionals- PowerPoint Slides
Reverse Osmosis In-Service Training for Extension professionals - Zoom Recording