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High Nitrates in Tap Water

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Here is a letter I wrote to our local news paper about the high Nitrate in our local tap water. It's really disturbing.


I am concerned about the quality of the water we drink on the Eastern Shore and we all have a reason to be concerned. I graduated from Salisbury University and currently work in their Web Department. I started out with a ten-gallon fish tank and now have four freshwater aquariums, which I fill with Salisbury tap water. I routinely monitor the water; I test the pH, Ammonia and Nitrite at least twice monthly using API’s Freshwater Master Test Kit. When I first started testing in January all the tests came back normal, except for Nitrates. The test was showing levels between 40 to 60ppm, which is above the legal limit of 45ppm. This is the same tap water we drink daily and use for cooking. Boiling this water will only raise the concentration of Nitrates.

I have personally tested the water at Salisbury University, near Schumacher Pond and near the Centre at Salisbury—all these results came back above 40ppm. After receiving data from an accurate nitrate ion-selective electrode test, the results were as follow: 7.68 mg/L (ppm) of Nitrate-Nitrogen (NO3-N) and 33.8pm of Nitrate (NO3-) in the tap water.

The number, while marginally under the legal limit, is considerably high for drinking water. While harmless to most adults, the threats of heightened cancer risk and respiratory issues with infants have served as good warning to solve this issue before it gets worse. Any and all filters within my price range don’t work to remove the nitrates; Brita filters are useless for this purpose. They will remove heavy metals and soften the water but will not remove nitrogen. I’ve resorted to buying bottled water until I get a more permanent solution. These solutions include Reverse Osmosis systems that can be installed to any home or apartment or purchasing high volumes of water.

The water paleo plant is actively trying to figure out what is happening with our water. I am in contact with the director and I am waiting test results from their labs. The nitrate levels at the plant and the Wicomico River in this area are stable at 5.0ppm, which is where it should be. The new samples will be coming from the tap water instead of from inside the plant itself. If both the river water and paleo water treatment plant are reading normal levels, what happens en route to our faucet? Also, what else gets into our water supply and how? I’ve heard our local Watershed Implementation Plan, the effort that 6 states and the District of Columbia are required to implement, aims to curb pollution that goes into the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding waterways. We hope the plan considers the water we consume too. I’m getting more involved and reaching out to others with the same problems. I can be reached via my online aquarium journal,


Thoughts and feedback are welcome. I honestly don't know what could be happening from the paleo water plant to the water out the tap. It's really weird. The area we live in has A LOT of farms.
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Good letter! I hope you let us know how this ends up.
Thank you! I sent it to the Daily Times in Salisbury, MD but I haven't heard anything back yet. I am currently working with my friend who works for the Maryland League of Conservative Voters.

If the Daily Times doesn't do anything i'll end up mailing the letter in or going in there with it hahaha. I'll also try other news papers too. I'll def keep you posted.
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