AQUA: Your Water Sample Specialist
Test your private well water. First, make sure that your well is located and constructed properly.
Test Your Well at Least Once a Year for Bacteria
Water that has become contaminated by human or animal wastes can transmit a variety of infectious diseases, including dysentery, salmonellosis, hepatitis, and giardiasis. Symptoms vary, but nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, with our without fever, are most common. To assess bacterial safety, drinking water is tested for a group of “indicator bacteria” called total coliform bacteria. These bacteria do not usually cause disease themselves, but their presence indicates that surface contamination has found its way into the well & disease organisms may also be present. When total coliform bacteria are found in the well water, the water should not be consumed without boiling, and the well should be disinfected.
Test Your Well at Least Once Every Year or Two for Nitrate
Nitrate is a common contaminate of Wisconsin groundwater. Elevated levels of nitrate are often caused by run-off from barnyards or feedlots, excessive use of fertilizers, or septic systems. Wells most vulnerable to nitrate contamination include shallow wells, dug wells and wells with damaged or leaking casing or fittings. Well water containing nitrate at levels above the State & Federal limit (10 milligrams per liter) should never be given to infants less than six months old, because it can cause a potentially fatal disease called “blue baby syndrome.” Filtration or constructing a deeper well may be your only option to remove nitrates from well water. Boiling Does NOT it may actually make them worse by concentration.
Test Your Well Water at Least Once for Arsenic
Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater some exceeding 10 micrograms per liter the state health limit. In Wisconsin there are areas of concentration of arsenic, but it can occur almost anywhere in the state. Please be aware arsenic in groundwater is an on going study as to most prevalent locations to why it occurs in one well & not another. Find DNR arsenic info here.
Long-term consumption of arsenic above the drinking water standard may increase the risk of health problems of the skin, circulatory system or the nervous system, including in some forms of cancer. Every private well should be testes at least once or twice to determine if arsenic is present, and at what levels.
Testing For Other Contaminates
Pesticides: Wells most at risk of pesticide contamination are shallow or old, located close to areas of pesticide use or storage, and located in geologically sensitive areas such as bedrock areas. Wells that have high levels of nitrate are also more likely to have detectable levels pesticides. If you have an old or shallow well & you live in an agricultural area, or if you well has high level of nitrates you should consider testing for pesticides.
VOCs: Volatile Organic Chemicals are common components of gasoline & other fuels, as well as products such as solvents, paints, and cleaners. If you live near a commercial or industrial area, a gas station, or a landfill & especially if you well is old or shallow, you should consider having your water tested for VOCs.