Testing of 150 drinking water wells in Annapolis Valley over the past six years shows there has been no significant change in nitrate levels in the groundwater supplying those wells. The Department of Environment and Labour has monitored groundwater in the area annually since 2002. Water in 22 per cent of the wells tested in 2007 exceeded the federal guideline for nitrate levels, but the levels have not significantly changed since monitoring began. “The Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act commits the province to developing a strategy to manage water resources,” said Brooke Taylor, acting Minister of Environment and Labour. “That work is underway and will help to address water issues in a comprehensive way.” The testing was done in an area of concentrated agricultural activity where nitrate levels are historically high. These test results would not be typical of many areas of Nova Scotia. Nitrate is a common groundwater contaminant originating primarily from fertilizers, manure, plant residues and sewage. Ingesting water with high levels of nitrate can be harmful to infants. Well owners with high nitrate levels should treat drinking water or use alternative sources. The department informs well owners of test results and steps they can take to ensure clean and safe drinking water. The Department of Environment and Labour is assessing nitrate levels in groundwater, in consultation with the department of Agriculture, and Health Promotion and Protection. The Department of Agriculture is working with farmers to develop environmental farm plans and nutrient management plans which may reduce nitrate levels in groundwater. Monitoring of the wells will continue and results will be reviewed. Environmental protection is one of government’s five immediate priorities and is the focus of the province’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. The province’s work on a management strategy for water resources includes a discussion paper that can be found on the department website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/water . Public consultations stemming from the paper are scheduled for spring. For results of the nitrate monitoring, visitwww.gov.ns.ca/enla/water/groundwater/nitrate.asp or for general information about drinking water safety, visitwww.gov.ns.ca/enla/water/privatewells.asp .