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Nitrate is a naturally occurring compound made up of nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth, but human activities produce more nitrogen than natural systems can use. Fertilizers, manure and sewage all add extra nitrogen to the landscape. As this nitrogen moves through the environment, it becomes nitrate. The nitrate can then make its way to streams and sources of drinking water via surface runoff or groundwater saturation. Excess nitrate in water can pose serious problems for the health of humans and the environment. You can help! Visit to take the Nitrate Watch Pledge and we will send you a FREE kit containing everything you need to measure nitrate in your drinking water or local waterways.