Testing your private well water

Private well owners are responsible for testing their own water for contaminants. If you depend on a well for your water, it's essential to test it for toxins.

When to test

  • As soon as possible, if you live in an area with confirmed or suspected PFAS contamination
  • At least annually for bacteria and nitrate
  • Whenever there is a change in odor, appearance, or taste
  • When you suspect your well has been compromised by flooding
  • Whenever the well is modified in any way

Nobody told Bill Schroeder to be wary of the water pouring from his tap.

When he first tested his well, the water contained nitrate at nine parts per million, only one part per million below the environmental standard of 10 parts per million.

After a factory farm was built near Bill’s home in Chilton, a second test showed nitrate levels had ballooned to a dangerous and undrinkable 24 parts per million.

When he learned that his water was polluted, he spoke out. Bill told his story to the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality when it came to Green Bay. By telling his story, Bill made it clear to the task force that it must take bold action to fix our drinking water crisis.

As part of Wisconsin Conservation Voters’ clean water work, we’re encouraging families to share their personal stories about their drinking water problems and urging them to get their drinking water tested.

Tell your story here.

How to test

There are different options to test your water. The type of test and how you acquire it vary depending on what contaminant you are testing for. There are many public and private labs that test well water.

You can find a breakdown on how to test for different types of contaminants by clicking on the buttons below.

Test for PFAS

Test for nitrate

Test for lead

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains a list online here or you can contact your local health department. A test kit (including sampling instructions) may be obtained from any laboratory certified to test water for bacteriological and nitrate contamination. Make sure you carefully follow all instructions for sampling and handling.

Testing costs can vary, so be sure to ask about price. If needed, ask your health department about payment options and whether it offers financial assistance for testing.

The important thing is to get your water tested.

Fixing the problem

The most reliable way to fix water quality issues is to prevent drinking water pollution in the first place.

If you are already experiencing water quality problems or your test comes back indicating you do, it’s important that the elected officials who represent you hear your story. You can:

If you don't want to share your results to the public you can:


“Protecting our waters, lands, and citizens requires that decision-making be informed by science. Period.”

scientist. dad. voter.

Jake Vander Zanden, Madison


The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection estimates that roughly one in five private wells in rural areas of our state have levels of agricultural pollution that make the water unsafe to drink.

AB 226 and SB 168 make it easier for more households to replace the costs of their contaminated wells or failing septic systems by allowing local governments to provide low-cost or no-cost loans to replace these wells and systems.

It also increases the maximum grant amount under the state’s Well Compensation Grant Program to $12,000. Conservation voters were successful in passing this bill after sending over 2,200 comments to legislators asking them to support the bill.


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Gov. Evers takes another step toward cleaner drinking water

Gov. Tony Evers continued to demonstrate his commitment to clean drinking water with an executive order yesterday that addresses a class of chemicals called PFAS, which are linked to adverse health effects such as cancer and developmental issues.