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Well Water Testing


Well Water Testing

Know the Threats, Minimize the Risk:

-Barnyard and other areas where manure accumulates

-Cropland and lawns where fertilizers, chemicals or manure are applied

-Malfunctioning septic systems

-Rainwater or snowmelt runoff from roads and other paved areas


Over 15% of Americans rely on their own private drinking water supplies. There are over 800,000 private wells in Wisconsin alone. Wells can be safe, dependable sources of water if sited wisely and built correctly, but individual owners must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of this water supply.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public water systems, but they do not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells. As an individual water system owner, it is up to you to make sure that your water is safe to drink.


Naturally Occurring Sources of Pollution:


·       Microorganism:   bacteria, viruses and parasites

·       Radionuclides

·       Radon

·       Nitrates and nitrites

·       Heavy metals

·       Fluoride


What to Test For

There are several water quality indicators (WQIs) and contaminants that should be tested for in your water.  A WQI test measures the amount of certain germs in the water.  Presence of these germs may indicate the presence of sewage and other disease causing germs from humans or animal feces.  Pollution can be naturally occurring or caused from human activity. It is important to recognize and understand the potential for pollution in your private well.


Human Activities That Can Cause Pollution:


·      Bacteria and Nitrates

·      Agricultural Industry

·      Heavy Metals

·      Fertilizers and


·      Industrial products and waste

·      Household waste

·      Lead and copper

·      water treatment chemicals








Center for Disease Control

For well testing information:




For safe drinking information 

EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791



When to Test

At a minimum, check your well every spring to make sure there are no mechanical problems. Test it once each year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels (click here for a complete list of common water contaminants). If you suspect other contaminants, you should test for those as well. However, spend time identifying potential problems as these tests can be expensive. The best way to start is to consult a local expert, such as the local health department, about local contaminants of concern. You should also have your well tested if:

  • There are known problems with well water in your area
  • You have experienced problems near your well (i.e., flooding, land disturbances, and nearby waste disposal sites)
  • You replace or repair any part of your well system
  • You notice a change in water quality (i.e., taste, color, odor)

Make sure to test any time you notice a change in how the water looks, tastes or smells. Even if your water looks, tastes and smells good, it can contain harmful bacteria and viruses.


Wisconsin Department of Commerce:

For information on approved drinking water treatment devices

(608) 267-1401



Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

For well testing, maintenance and building information



Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene:

To order sampling kits




Who Should Test 

Use a certified laboratory to test your drinking water for possible contaminants. Labs that test for bacteria in water are certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). 


Health or environmental departments, or county governments should have a list of the state-certified (licensed) laboratories in your area that test for a variety of substances.


 “Do-it-yourself” drinking water test kits are available from hardware stores. However, these kits cannot fully evaluate the safety of drinking water and most only inform you whether a substance is present, not the amount. Home water tests can be a useful first step, but rely on certified laboratories for the most accurate results.


For more information, contact the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.



Testing Kits Available

Water testing kits may be picked up for the Kewaunee County Public Health Department during regular business hours. Water samples are mailed directly to the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene for analysis. The cost of the analysis depends on the type of test required.


 Pregnant Women and New Moms

Pregnant women and new mothers are eligible to have a free well water test done to check for water issues that can harm the fetus or child. 


Contact Us

For guidance on well water testing

Kewaunee County Health Department

810 Lincoln St.

Kewaunee, WI 54216


M-F 8:00am-4:30pm




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