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Tests confirm farm chemicals in Dakota County wells

HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) -- Thousands of people in Dakota County will receive letters telling them that their drinking water contains unsafe levels of farm chemicals.

New tests presented to county commissioners show that nitrates and pesticide levels exceeded drinking water standards in 14 of the 68 wells tested.

Among other things, nitrates may indicate pollutants, such as coliform bacteria, which can come from untreated sewage, animal wastes, and fertilizer.

The pesticides included alachlor, atrazine, metolachlor and cyanazine, an off-the-market herbicide that corn growers used for many years.

Dakota County Commissioner Joe Harris says about 8,000 households with private wells need to be notified about the test results.

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"People are going to have to possibly make some changes in order to protect their health and their families' health as it pertains to drinking water supplies," he said.

Residents with drinking water deemed unsafe will be encouraged to drink bottled water.

Harris said many southeastern Minnesota areas with sandy soil and fractured limestone probably also have chemicals in their ground water.

"We're not the only one with a problem, but we're the only one testing for it," Harris said.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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