Most people living in rural areas rely on private wells to supply their drinking water needs. While
public and municipal wells are regulated to ensure water quality meets current drinking water
standards, private well owners must assume the responsibility of testing and treating water to
ensure it is safe to drink. Groundwater specialists strongly encourage rural residents to test their
water annually for bacteria and nitrate.
The Extension Green County office, in partnership with the townships in Green County,
coordinates an annual drinking water testing program. These tests are solely for educational
purposes and do not have any regulatory component. Individual testing results are not reported
to any regulatory agency.
The 2020 annual drinking water testing program involved tests completed at the start of March. Participants received their test results in mid-April. Because of covid-19, the educational session was conducted online and recorded. You can access the 2020 Green County Groundwater and Drinking Water Education Program (video) and the referenced Green County Groundwater and Drinking Water Education Program 2020 Presentation slides .
Those who participated will receive the results of their water tests in the mail in early April. Due to Wisconsin’s ongoing Safer at Home restrictions in response to COVID-19, the educational program will be available online. The webinar will take place on Thursday, April 16th at 6:00pm. Those interested in joining should email Victoria Solomon at email@example.com to receive the webinar link. Anyone not able to join will be able to view the presentation online. Additionally, anyone can follow up with Extension specialists with questions about their results or with general questions about groundwater.
I missed Extension's 2020 annual drinking water testing program, however, still want to get my water tested now. What should I do?
Due to covid-19, the UW-Stevens Point water testing lab is currently closed. You can contact Kevin Masarik, Groundwater Education Specialist, at (715) 346-4276 or firstname.lastname@example.org. to be notified when the lab is opened.
If you want to test your water in 2020 and did not participate during the 2020 annual drinking water testing program, you can get test kits through the Green County Health Department. Check out their website, Green County Public Health-Water Testing for more information.
Even if your tests are taken through another program, you can contact Victoria Solomon with Extension Green County or Kevin Masarik with the Center for Watershed Science and Education, with questions about understanding test results and options for managing your drinking water.
There are three water test packages. You can choose to do any or all of them. The information can be used to help you decide which to perform.
Options for well water testing:
- Homeowner Package ($55)
- Includes tests for coliform bacteria, nitrate, chloride, hardness, alkalinity, PH, and saturation index.
- This is the basic package. It is recommended to perform this set of tests if you are unsure which package to perform.
- Includes the two most important tests to perform regularly on a well (bacteria and nitrate).
- Metals Package ($52)
- Includes tests for arsenic, lead, copper, iron, zinc, calcium magnesium, manganese, sodium potassium and sulfate.
- Consider this package if:
- You’ve never had your well tested for arsenic.
- Previous tests indicated the presence of arsenic.
- Your plumbing system has components that contain copper and/or lead.
- You have red or brown staining from your water.
- Triazine Screen ($33)
- Tests for a breakdown of atrazine type pesticides.
- Consider this package if:
- Your well is within 1/4 mile of agricultural fields where corn has been grown.
- Previous tests indicated elevated nitrate likely associated with fertilizer use.
If you choose all three packages, the cost is $132, a discount of $8.
The 2020 Drinking Water Test Package Info has information about the available water tests.
Click here for information on How to Take the Drinking Water Tests. Please note:
- Do NOT open the sample bottles before testing.
- Do NOT rinse the bottles
- Collect your samples on the designated day only. Samples more than 40 hours old when they reach the lab cannot be accurately analyzed for bacteria.
Also check this video How to take a water sample for information on taking the test.
Check out the following documents for information on how to effectively interpret drinking water quality results:
- Homeowners Package Interpreting Drinking Water Quality Results
- Interpreting the Results of Your Diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) Screen
- Nitrate in Drinking Water
- Lead in Drinking Water
- Bacteriological Contamination of Drinking Water Wells
- Homeowner’s Metals Package
If you have any questions or concerns about your drinking water test results, do not hesitate to contact Victoria Solomon or Kevin Masarik.
How to Request a Copy of a DNR Well Constructor’s Report
There are a number of resources available from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on well construction reports. These resources are available online: WIsconsin DNR-Information for Private Well Owners and please note this is for private well owners only.
Care and Maintenance of Residential Septic Systems
The Care and Maintenance of Residential Septic Systems document is helpful in understanding residential septic systems and how to properly maintain them.
Wisconsin Well Construction Reports
For an online database of well construction reports in Wisconsin, view the Wisconsin Well Construction Reports.
You and Your Well
This You and Your Well publication by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides information about well construction in Wisconsin. It is helpful for people who are considering building a new home or replacing or upgrading an existing water supply.
Check out these documents for information on how to improve your private well water quality:
The following aggregated test results from the annual drinking water testing programs are below. Individual well results are not shared with anyone other than the well owner.
- Results: Spring (Decatur, Jefferson, Spring Grove, and Sylvester)
- 2018 Groundwater and Drinking Water Education Program
- Results: Summer (Albany, Brooklyn, Mt. Pleasant, and New Glarus
- 2017 Groundwater and Drinking Water Education Program
- Results: Fall (Cadiz, Clarno, Jordan, Monroe)
- 2015 Groundwater and Drinking Water Education Presentation