Excess nitrates contaminate water, prompt closure of Hemet wells

HEMET – An increase in contaminants affecting water supplies in the city of Hemet prompted officials to shut down two wells, it was announced today.

According to the Hemet Department of Public Works, testing showed nitrate levels in the wells had exceeded the state standard by 2 milligrams per liter.

Nitrates can originate from leaks from septic systems, agricultural runoff and other industrial waste. The California Department of Public Health requires that nitrate levels remain at or below 45 milligrams per liter for drinking water to remain safe.

Excessive nitrates are most harmful to infants under 6 months old and pregnant women, according to health officials.

The Hemet Department of Public Works said four wells remain operational, and water supplies should not be constrained, though crews are attempting to bring a reserve well online ahead of the summer swelter.

The two wells currently out of service will be re-tested in the coming weeks to determine whether nitrate levels have fallen back to within an acceptable range, city officials said.

Reasons for the spike in nitrates weren’t immediately known. Riverside County is consistently among the top three counties in the state with elevated nitrate levels, according to the Department of Public Health.

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