On June 12, 2019, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality notified operators of the Worden, Ballantine,Yellowstone County (WBYC) Water & Sewer District public water system that it is in violation of Montana rules governing allowable total nitrate levels in public water systems.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the state have set a Maximum Contaminant Level for protection of human health for nitrate/nitrite content in drinking water at 10 miligrams per liter.
Recent testing of the WBYC District's system indicates an average of 12 mg/L.
This is an acute condition and all elements of the Public Warning issued by the Worden, Ballantine, Yellowstone County Water & Sewer District's public water system should be followed closely.
Consumption of even a small amount of the water by infants below the age of six months could result in serious illness or death from the blood condition methemoglobinemia, commonly known as “blue baby syndrome.”
Do not make baby formula from this public water supply or prepare juices.
Adults and children older than 6 months of age can consume the tap water.
Pregnant women and other at-risk populations should not drink the tap water and use an alternate water source.
Individuals should consult their health care provider for specific recommendations.
Boiling water from the Worden, Ballantine, Yellowstone County Water & Sewer District's system concentrates nitrate levels and should not be an employed strategy.
Filtering, freezing or letting water stand also will not reduce nitrates.
Bottled water is available between 7:30 am and 4 pm, or by appointment, at the Worden, Ballantine, Yellowstone County District Office, 2449 Main St., in Worden.
According to DEQ, nitrate levels in the WBYC District's system have been rising gradually over the past decade.
Tests in late May 2019 were the first to exceed 10 mg/L with confirmation testing in mid-June.
Probable sources of the contamination include agricultural fertilizers and livestock activity in proximity to the water source.
The Worden, Ballantine, Yellowstone County Water & Sewer District's public water supply has for many decades used an infiltration gallery well for its primary water source.
This source consists of an array of perforated tiles that collect water that percolates through the ground. The supply is augmented by a conventional well, which tests within acceptable levels for nitrates, but which delivers fewer gallons per minute.
The high nitrate levels are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
Operators of the system are working with DEQ and hired engineers to examine corrective action options.
A public meeting will be held at the Huntley Project High School in the Commons area on July 29th at 6:30 p.m. For further information, please contact Gary Fredericks at 406-696-5507 or visit the WBYC Water & Sewer District website.
For further information about this issue and at a county-wide level please contact Marilyn Tapia, Director, Environmental Health Services, Riverstone Public Health Services at email@example.com or by calling 406-256-2770.