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
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.
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:
- Send your results to your legislator – find them here
- Share your results with your neighbors and encourage them to test their water
- Share your story with Wisconsin Conservation Voters – use this handy form
- Post your results on social media and tag your representatives
- Write a letter to the editor or op-ed (here are some tips on how) to your local paper that tells your story and urges your elected officials to support clean water
- Organize an in-district meeting with your lawmaker to tell your story, and invite your neighbors who might share the same problems (here are some tips on how to have a great meeting with your legislator)
- Join our team of activists who are organizing around drinking water issues
If you don't want to share your results to the public you can:
- Make sure that you’re not drinking contaminated water – first, take action to ensure your safety
- See if you qualify for well compensation
- Share your results with your state and local lawmakers and ask that they keep the results confidential
- Set up a private meeting with your lawmakers
- Take action with Wisconsin Conservation Voters!