Water Testing for Homeowners and Private Well Owners

  How do I get my water tested?​

đź’§ Request a test kit online (to be shipped to you)

 đź’§ -or- Pick-up bottles: Your local Extension office may have kits available, or stop by the lab (UWSP Natural Resources Building, Room 200) (Find us on Google Maps).

đź’§ Need assistance?
Contact us:
715-346-3209 | weal@uwsp.edu

Video:
How to Collect a Water Sample

Need assistance? We're here to help!
715-346-3209 | weal@uwsp.edu



How do I know which tests to choose?​

A wide range of water tests are available to private well owners. See below for more information.

 Comprehensive Homeowner Package ($146) - Click for more info

​Includes Homeowners Package, Metals Package, and Pesticide Screen (DACT) - Greatest value

(Information and pricing for each individual package can be found in the drop-down menus below)

 Homeowner Package ($60) - Click for more info

  • ​Basic package. Choose this option if you are unsure of which tests to perform.
  • Includes the two most important tests to perform routinely on a well (bacteria and nitrate)*​

Coliform Bacteria*
This test determines the sanitary condition of a water supply. Indicates whether or not the water supply is bacteriologically safe.  This is the most important test to perform regularly on a private water system.  If coliform bacteria is detected, the sample will also be checked for E. coli bacteria as well.  Priority analysis is available.

Nitrate plus Nitrite-Nitrogen*
Nitrate is the most widespread chemical contaminant in Wisconsin’s groundwater. Elevated levels may serve as an indicator of other potential contaminants, such as pesticides or chemicals associated with septic system effluent. The safe drinking water standard for nitrate-nitrogen is 10 mg/L. Priority analysis is available.

pH

Measure of relative acidity of the water. Useful in assessing the corrosivity of water to plumbing.

Alkalinity

Amount of bicarbonate, the major anion in water, related to pH and corrosion.

Hardness

Measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium. Important if water softening is considered.

Chloride

An indicator ion that, if found in elevated concentration, points to potential contamination from septic systems, fertilizer, landfills, or road salt.

Conductivity

Measure of total dissolved minerals in water. Change in conductivity or unusual ratio of conductivity to hardness may signal presence of contaminants.

Corrosivity Index

A calculation of the corrosivity index is performed to determine the tendency for plumbing to corrode or for lime to deposit in your plumbing.

 Metals Package ($57) - Click for more info

​Consider this option if:
  • You've never had your well tested for arsenic.
  • You're experiencing problems with staining.
  • Previous tests have detected arsenic.
  • Your plumbing system has copper components.

Arsenic
The safe drinking water standard for arsenic in drinking water is 0.010 mg/L. The source of arsenic in groundwater is generally associated with naturally occurring arsenic in soils and mineral deposits. In rare cases, past pesticide use practices (especially those associated with cherry orchards) or improper disposal of arsenic containing chemicals may also be potential sources.

Calcium

Naturally occurs in groundwater where soils or underground rock formations contain limestone or dolomite. Essential to bone and tooth development, blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and may reduce heart disease. Along with magnesium, causes hard water.

Copper
Not naturally found in significant concentrations in Wisconsin’s groundwater. Elevated levels of copper are generally caused by corrosion of copper plumbing. Acidic or corrosive water exacerbates corrosion of copper plumbing. In small amounts, copper aids in iron utilization in the body. Levels above 1.3 mg/L exceed the safe drinking water standard.

Iron

Naturally occurring mineral which causes taste problems and discoloration of water. Important component of blood hemoglobin.

Lead
Not naturally occurring in Wisconsin groundwater. Found in water supplies with lead solder or pipes especially when water is corrosive or soft.

Magnesium
Naturally occurs in Wisconsin groundwater. Along with calcium, causes hard water.

Manganese

Naturally occurring in some groundwater. Elevated levels of manganese in groundwater can result in aesthetic problems. Black precipitates (specks or staining) are often a result of manganese. There is a health advisory limit of 0.300 mg/L manganese. Problematic levels of manganese and iron are sometimes found together since both are associated with low levels of oxygen in groundwater.

Potassium

Levels greater than 10 mg/L may indicate contamination from animal waste or may come from water softeners that use potassium chloride.

Sodium

Water supplies that are softened will contain elevated levels of sodium if sodium chloride is used as the softener salt. Elevated levels in groundwater may be the result of road salt or septic system effluent.

Sulfate

Naturally occurring in some groundwater. Concentrations above 250 mg/L may cause a laxative effect, especially in people not accustomed to drinking the water. Sulfate is not the same as hydrogen sulfide which causes the rotten egg odor, although both contain the element sulfur.

Zinc

Concentrations greater than 1 mg/L usually occur only when corrosive water is distributed through galvanized pipes, or in zinc mining areas.

 Pesticides (Price varies) - Click for more info

​Diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) Screen ($35)
Detects argicultural chemicals called triazines.  Triazines are a class of herbicides that include atrazine, simazine, and cyanazine.  The DACT screen is an approximate test that is performed as an inexpensive alternative to a more detailed test.  It is a useful first step in determining whether your water is being impacted by pesticides and below health-based standards for triazine type herbicides.

________________________________________

Nitrogen and Phosphorus (N/P) Containing Pesticides ($132)

This test is for those who have a reason to suspect contamination (other than atrazine).  We recommend homeowners have their water tested for nitrate (see "Homeowner Package") before choosing this test. These pesticides are more commonly used in Wisconsin agriculture. Again, this test doesn't cover all pesticides.

 

Acetochlor Dyfonate
Atrazine EPTC (Eptam) Propazine             
De-ethyl Atrazine Ethafluralin Simazine
De-isoprophyl Atrazine Metolachlor (Dual) Terbufos
Alachlor (Lasso) Metribuzin (Sencor) Triallate
Chlorpyrifos Pendimethalin Trifluralin
Cyanazine (Bladex) Phorate
Dimethinamid Prometon
   

Chloroacetanilide Herbicide Metabolites (CAAMs) - ($100)

These chemicals are from herbicides (alachlor, acetochlor, and metolachlor) that have replaced atrazine. While these parent herbicides normally degrade in the top soil, they form ethane sulfonic acid (ESA) and oxanillic acid (OA) degradates which can penetrate to groundwater. They have been found in groundwater in many of the agricultural areas of the state of Wisconsin.

 

At this time, there is little known regarding the health implications of drinking water contaminated with these chemicals. The only DNR regulatory standard that exists is for Alachlor ESA. It has a standard of 20 ppb.

Alachlor ESA Acetochlor ESA Metolachlor ESA
Alachlor OA Acetochlor OA Metolachlor OA
 
________________________________________

NP/CAAM - Discounted Package - (Greatest Value - $184)

________________________________________

Neoniconinoid Insecticides ($210)

 Septic System Impact Concerns - Click for more info

Consider testing if you think your well may be impacted by nearby septic systems.

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) - ($210)
This screening tool looks for the presence of human waste in a well or waterbody. We test for 13 compounds including artificial sweeteners, caffeine, antibiotics and other personal care products.

​ ​​ ​

 

​UWSP WEAL: Assisting citizens with drinking water quality problems since 1972.


Why does my water have a strange smell or taste?
What is causing the staining on my fixtures?
How can I be sure that my water safe to drink?

Our staff is here to answer your questions and offer solutions.
We recommend having your water tested anually.

715-346-3209 | weal@uwsp.edu |  Follow us on Facebook!