washing an apple in the sink

You can get your water tested through our laboratory.


Our Laboratory is certified by the State to test drinking water for bacteria, metals, nutrients, and other chemicals. We offer water testing for homeowners, renters, and public water utilities.


When to Test Your Water

Recommendations for testing vary depending on;

  • the source of your water (private well or municipal water),
  • age of your home, and
  • who lives in your household.  

Private Well Owners

  • You should test your water each year for bacteria and nitrate/nitrite. Test sooner if there has been flooding in the area or if you notice changes in taste, odor, or appearance of the water. 
  • It is very important to test for nitrate in households with pregnant people, infants, and young children. Nitrate can reduce the blood's ability to carry oxygen. In infants it can cause a serious condition called "blue baby syndrome."
  • The age and type of plumbing may indicate a need for additional testing to check for lead and other metals. While lead is less of an issue in private wells, it can be found in some pumps or valves used in private wells.
  • Tests for Drinking Water from Private Wells WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Municipal Water Customers

If you pay a water bill, you have water that comes from a municipal water utility. The water utility tests the water regularly and makes sure that you have safe drinking water.

  • You can test for water quality problems that may come from your plumbing, like lead, copper, manganese or bacterial contamination.
  • You should test for lead if:
    • You have lead piping or solder
    • The system that brings water to where you live has lead piping or solder
    • You have galvanized steel pipes
  • We can help figure out if you have lead pipes. Call us at (608) 242-6515. This website can also help you find out. Lead levels may vary widely throughout the home so don’t rely on just one good test.
  • Water can look cloudy or discolored when water mains are flushed for cleaning and maintenance. The water should clear up after running for a few minutes. It does not usually mean testing is needed. If the water does not become clear, call your local water utility.

Other Water Testing

We test more than just drinking water. We can test area lakes, streams, and rivers for indicators of environmental conditions.


Testing Process

  1. Decide which tests

    Different test options require different kits. If you already know what tests you want to order, go to step 2. We can help you figure out what tests or packages to order. Email lab@publichealthmdc.com or call us at (608) 243-0357. We will discuss the types of tests you need based on your situation and their cost. 

  2. Get a Test Kit

    • All testing requires the use of a water testing kit.
    • Depending on what type of testing you want, you might need several sample test kits.
    • Water test kits must be ordered in advance. You can pick them up at the City County Building, or we can mail them to you for a $5 fee.
    Pick Up Test Kits
    • You can pick up a test kit from 8:00AM - 2:00PM Monday through Friday if you have ordered it in advance.
    • Hours vary around holidays; before sampling, call (608) 243-0357.
    • Location: Public Health Office - City County Building

    210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., front desk in Room 507, Madison
    Get Directions 

  3. Collect a Water Sample

    • Review the instructions that come with your test kit.
    • Instructions will vary based on the type of test. It is important to follow them to get accurate results.
    • Collect the sample right before you bring it to our office.
  4. Return Sample to Us

    • Complete the information requested on the test kit bottle and form in your test kit.
    • Bring your payment. We accept cash or a check made out to City Treasurer.
    • Test kits must be dropped off in person.
    • Drop off hours: 8:00AM - 2:00PM Monday through Wednesday only.
    • Location: Public Health Office - City County Building

    210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., front desk in Room 507, Madison
    Get Directions 

  5. Get Results!

    • You can get your results by email or mail.
    • Results are usually available in ten business days after we get your sample. Rush orders (results in 5 business days) might be available. Call us about availability and fee before mailing or dropping off samples.    
    • If your test result shows the water is unsafe for drinking, we will give you information on what to do next. We are happy to talk to you about your results. Call us at (608) 243-0357.

Cost

Free Drinking Water Testing For Those who Qualify

If a pregnant person or baby under 6 months lives in your home and you have financial need, water testing is available for free. This uses a different testing kit and lab than the process above.

Please call (608) 242-6515 to find out if you qualify for free testing. You can also visit our office at 2300 S. Park St. Suite 2010.

If you do not qualify for free water testing, you must follow the process above and pay the fees.