Water Quality Parameter

Monitoring Water for Nitrates With KETOS SHIELD

Water operators need an intelligent solution that can offer lab-accurate monitoring of a variety of water testing parameters – including nitrates, heavy metals, and multiple environmental factors.

Testing for Nitrates

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Learn To Automate Nitrates Testing In Water With Lab-Accurate Results in Real-Time

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Testing for Nitrates

Monitoring Water For NitratesKETOS SHIELD can monitor for nitrates and water quality parameters in real-time, all while lowering up-front costs for water quality testing via an industry-leading $0-CAPEX subscription model. 

KETOS SHIELD provides accurate, real-time monitoring for nitrates and dozens of other parameters. Monitor your water testing parameters via an interoperable, modular system that uploads data to the cloud for secure 24/7 access from anywhere.

Why Monitor Water for Nitrates with KETOS

Nitrates, a form of nitrogen, are an essential nutrient for plants. However, when produced in excess amounts, they can also cause severe water quality issues. When combined with phosphorus, for example, nitrates can increase the growth of aquatic plants and cause the species of animals and plants that live in the surrounding ecosystem to change. It can affect various indicators, such as dissolved oxygen and temperature, and cause hypoxia while also becoming toxic to warm-blooded animals if concentrations exceed 10 mg/L.

Typically, the natural level of nitrates in surface water is low (less than one mg/L). However, human activity can cause high levels of nitrates to enter surface and groundwater. For example, the effluent of wastewater treatment plants can have nitrate levels as high as 30 mg/L and, if allowed to enter the surrounding environment, can cause a spike in the surrounding water supply.

Wastewater treatment plants are not the only source of nitrates. Other human activities, such as agricultural fertilization, failing septic systems, runoff from hog and cattle farms, and industrial discharge with corrosion inhibitors, are other significant sources of nitrate contamination in water. Consuming too much nitrate can be harmful—especially for babies.

Consuming too much nitrate can affect how blood carries oxygen and can cause methemoglobinemia (also known as blue baby syndrome). Bottle-fed babies under six months old are at the highest risk of getting methemoglobinemia.

Therefore, having a solution that can monitor nitrates is essential. By understanding nitrate levels and adequately handling the remediation process before wastewater discharge, water operators can prevent contamination events and protect surrounding water supplies.

What are the Issues with Nitrates in Water?

Nitrates are compounds commonly found in water sources, often originating from agricultural runoff, wastewater discharge, and fertilizer use. While nitrates are essential nutrients for plant growth, elevated levels in water can pose significant challenges and health risks. Here are key concerns associated with nitrates in water:

  • Health Risks: High levels of nitrates in drinking water pose serious health risks, particularly for vulnerable populations such as infants and pregnant women. Nitrates can interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream, leading to a condition called methemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome” in infants, which can be fatal if left untreated. Chronic exposure to elevated nitrate levels has also been linked to adverse health effects in adults, including increased risks of certain cancers and thyroid disorders.
  • Contamination Sources: Nitrates often enter water sources through various human activities, including agricultural practices such as fertilizer application, livestock farming, and crop irrigation. Runoff from agricultural fields, animal feeding operations, and septic systems can carry excess nitrates into surface water bodies and groundwater aquifers, contributing to nitrate pollution.
  • Groundwater Contamination: Nitrates are highly soluble and can readily leach into groundwater, posing contamination risks to aquifers and drinking water supplies. In areas with intensive agricultural activity or high population density, groundwater nitrate contamination is a prevalent issue, affecting the quality of drinking water and necessitating costly treatment measures to ensure water safety.
  • Eutrophication: Excessive nitrate levels in water bodies can contribute to eutrophication, a process characterized by the overgrowth of algae and aquatic plants. As algae proliferate, they consume dissolved oxygen during decomposition, leading to oxygen depletion in the water column and adverse impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Eutrophication can result in fish kills, habitat degradation, and reduced water quality, affecting recreational activities and ecosystem health.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Governments and regulatory agencies establish maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for nitrates in drinking water to protect public health. Compliance with these standards presents challenges for water utilities and municipalities, particularly in agricultural regions where nitrate contamination is prevalent. Ensuring compliance requires monitoring, treatment, and management strategies to mitigate nitrate pollution and safeguard water quality.
  • Treatment Costs: Removing nitrates from water sources can be costly and technically challenging, especially for small water systems and rural communities. Conventional treatment methods such as ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and biological denitrification may be required to reduce nitrate concentrations to acceptable levels, requiring significant investment in infrastructure and ongoing operation and maintenance expenses. 

Causes of Nitrates in Water

Nitrates in water primarily originate from agricultural activities, wastewater discharges, and natural processes, posing significant environmental and health concerns. In agriculture, nitrates from fertilizers, manure, and other nitrogen-based compounds can leach into soil and groundwater, especially in areas with intensive farming practices. Rainfall and irrigation then carry these nitrates into water bodies, contributing to contamination. Additionally, untreated or inadequately treated wastewater from municipal and industrial sources contains nitrogen compounds that can elevate nitrate levels in waterways. Natural processes such as microbial decomposition of organic matter and atmospheric deposition also contribute to nitrate pollution. Elevated nitrate levels in drinking water pose serious health risks, particularly to infants, as nitrate ingestion can lead to methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby syndrome,” a potentially life-threatening condition. Therefore, effective management strategies, including proper agricultural practices, wastewater treatment, and monitoring programs, are essential to mitigate nitrate contamination and protect both human health and the environment.

How to Easily Monitor Water for Nitrates

Monitoring for nitrates is just the beginning. Download our KETOS SHIELD overview to learn how taking on dozens of water testings parameters at once can help your organization.

Whether you need to detect ORP in industrial wastewater, orthophosphates in stormwater, or nitrites in the chemical industry, KETOS’ automated water monitoring saves time and reduces regulatory issues.

 

What Water Quality Parameter Do You Test Most Often?

The KETOS SHIELD remotely monitors dozens of water quality parameters. Which one do your water operators test most often?

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About KETOS

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KETOS is a fully integrated platform that combines hardware, software, connectivity, automated reporting, predictive analytics, and maintenance to automate water monitoring and testing. KETOS enables water operators to identify and solve mission-critical water efficiency and quality challenges in real-time, or before they happen through predictive algorithms, to ensure that water meets specific quality and safety standards.

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