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Private Wells

People with private wells need to make sure that their water quality is safe. To assure this, private well owners need to test their water annually. Our Lab performs water testing.

Why & When to Test Well Water

You should test your well water every year for coliform bacteria, nitrates and any contaminants of local concern. Water should be tested if you notice any change in taste, odor or appearance or after flooding.

For more information on getting your well water tested, contact Public Health - Madison & Dane County at (608) 266-4821. The Public Health laboratory can also recommend other tests that you might want to have run on your water, depending on your well's location, age, etc.

Fee-Exempt Drinking Water Testing

Who is eligible for fee-exempt:

  • Families with a pregnant woman or new child in the home AND
  • Have a financial hardship that would prevent them from testing their well otherwise.

What is my water tested for:

  • In most cases, water samples from homes with young children or pregnant women are normally tested for coliform bacteria, nitrate, and fluoride.
  • Testing can also be done for metals such as lead and copper through fee-exempt services if there is a concern about these contaminants.

Where do you get the test kits:

  • PHMDC Environmental Health Office
    Call 242-6515 for more information.

What do I do with the test kit:

  • Follow the instructions that come with the kit.
  • Collect the sample immediately before you take or send the sample to the lab.
  • Drop the sample off at the lab or mail to the State Lab of Hygiene; postage is not included with the test kit. The lab's address is included with the test kit.

Well Maintenance

For basic information about well water system maintenance, see Tips on Maintaining Your Well (PDF). Information is also provided on Disinfecting Contaminated Wells (PDF).

Well Permits

Before a private well is constructed in Dane County, the property owner is required to obtain a Well Location Permit. This permit is issued by Public Health Madison and Dane County and helps ensure that private wells are located with the proper setbacks form potential sources of contamination. For more details about this permit and the process for constructing a well in Dane County, please call (608) 242-6515.

Abandoned Wells

Abandoned or unused wells pose a threat to the safety and quality of ground water drinking water. They can provide a direct pathway for contamination into the aquifer. Financial assistance for well abandonment may be available from the WI Well Compensation grant program.

Key Contacts
Unsafe Drinking Water