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Private Drinking/Well Water Testing
As private wells are not regulated, it is up to the well owner to have their well tested regularly. The National Ground Water Association (NGWA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Sawyer County Health & Human Services all recommend well owners to test their water at least annually for bacteria, nitrates, and any contaminants of local concern. More frequent testing should be considered if:
- There is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the well water, or if a problem occurs such as a broken well cap, inundation by floodwaters, or a new contamination source
- The well has a history of bacterial contamination
- The septic system has recently malfunctioned
- Family members or house guests have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness
- An infant is living in the home
- To monitor the efficiency and performance of home water treatment equipment, or
- Your water hasn’t been tested for a while.
Remember, a test can only tell you about the quality of the water at the time of the test - the quality may change at different times. If concerned arrange for a retest of your well water.
Sawyer County Health and Human Services has partnered up with UW-Oshkosh and are now providing drinking water test kits for residents with Private Wells. Tests, such as Coliform Bacteria (E. coli), Nitrate, Arsenic, and some Metals are available at the Sawyer County Public Health Department front desk (during regular business hours).
PRIVATE WELL WATER TESTING KITS:
- Coliform Bacteria $25
- Nitrates $40
- Arsenic $45
- Homeowners Package $60 (Bacteria, Nitrates, pH, Iron, Hardness, Alkalinity)
- Comprehensive Homeowners $125 (Homeowners package + Metals package)
- Real Estate Package $120 (Bacteria, Nitrates, Arsenic with quicker turnaround time)
- Metals Package $100 (Arsenic, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Lead, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Sodium, Sulfate, Zinc, Phosphorus)
Guidelines for Water Sampling:
- Closely follow water sample collection instructions that are provided.
- Only the sterile sampling bottle provided in the kit can be used for water collection.
- Fill water sample bottle to just barely over 100 ml fill line. Too much or too little water could result in having to reject the sample.
- Bacteria water samples should be dropped off at the lab the same day as collected or shipped on ice so that we receive them within 24 hours from the time the sample was collected
- Samples will only be accepted for testing Monday - Thursday from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm *Water samples cannot be received on holidays or the day before a holiday.
How to collect Water Sample Videos:
- Bacteria (Vilas County)
- Nitrate, Arsenic, Cumulative (Vilas County)
How and When Am I Notified of My Results?
Bacteria results will be available within two business days and Nitrates/Arsenic results take 2 - 3 weeks. We will notify you of your sample results vial mail or email. We would prefer to email you the results to save on postage. Your sample results will remain on file for seven years.
What Should I Do If The Results Indicate There Is A Problems With My Well Water?
If your water test results indicate a presents of Coliform Bacteria, we recommend re-testing the water to confirm the results of the first test and rule out possible sampling error. Upon conclusion of the re-test, and the water is deemed unsafe, we suggest your contact you Sawyer County Health Department for additional information 715-634-4806.
Sawyer County Publications:
Wisconsin DNR Drinking Water Websites:
Tests for Drinking Water from Private Wells
Drinking Water Home Page
Drinking Water Publications
Identify Your Water's Symptoms
Additional Useful Drinking Water Resources:
- Well Owners Manual
- What to do if Coliform Bacteria is Present in a Well Water Sample?
- 9 Ways for Wisconsin Well Owners to Improve Their Drinking Water Quality
- Home Water Testing (EPA)
- Do You Use Well Water? An Introductions to Testing
- Ground Water Study Guide
- How Heavy Flooding Can Damage Drinking Water Quality
- Human Waste Pollutes Some Wisconsin Drinking Water
- Protecting Wisconsin's Ground Water Through Comprehensive Planning (Sawyer County)
- Safe Drinking Water - an Owners/Operator Handbook for Transient Non-community Public Drinking Water System
Matt McKayEnv. Health Tech. and Drinking Water SpecialistPhone: 715-638-3401
Health & Human ServicesPhysical Address
10610 Main Street
Hayward, WI 54843
10610 Main Street Suite 224 Hayward WI 54843
Phone: 715-634-4806Fax: 715-634-5387
Toll Free(800) 569-4162
Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.