Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 8:59am

Many residents of Dane County get their water supply from their own private wells. Unlike public water supplies that are continuously tested and monitored, homeowners that have their own well are responsible for making sure their drinking water is safe. Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) recommends adding well water testing to your list of regular spring maintenance tasks.

“We advise well owners to get their well water tested for bacteria and nitrates every year,” says Kirsti Sorsa, Laboratory Supervisor, for PHMDC. “Disease-causing bacteria can get into the well and cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea, so it important to have your well checked yearly for bacteria. It is also important to test for nitrates particularly in households with pregnant women, infants, and young children.”

If your area has been flooded by the spring snow melt, your private well may be contaminated by pollutants carried in the floodwaters. Testing should be done anytime the area around your well has flooded, or if you notice changes in taste, odor or appearance of your water.

Depending on the age and type of plumbing in your house, there may be a need to test for other things like lead and other metals. For example, homeowners that have old lead pipes and service lines may want to test for lead since lead in drinking water can pose a health risk for infants and young children.

PHMDC has a certified laboratory that can test your drinking water for bacteria, nitrites/nitrates, metals, and other contaminants. Lab staff are available to discuss your testing needs and make recommendations for your particular situation by calling 608-243-0357. They will also provide you with information about how to get a test kit and take a water sample.

Information about tests and fees is available on the PHMDC website. If you have well water and are unable to afford testing, free water testing is available if a pregnant woman or a new child lives in the home. Call (608) 242-6515 for more information.

A safe well keeps your household healthy and protects our groundwater.

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