|Minnesota Department of HealthNews Release
More than 1 million people residing in more than 400,000 households in
Minnesota rely on private wells as their source of drinking water. While
wells can provide high quality drinking water, state health officials observe
that most wells are rarely tested on a regular basis for things that can make
consumers of the well water sick, such as bacteria, arsenic, or nitrate.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) estimates that at any given time,
as many as 25 percent of private wells in Minnesota have detectable levels of
total coliform bacteria, an indication that surface contamination has entered
the well or water system.
National Groundwater Awareness Week was established more than two decades
ago to bring attention to the important role that groundwater plays in the health
and well-being of people. Properly maintaining wells that tap into
groundwater is critical for protecting personal health and the health of the
resource. This year’s observance, March 11-17, is a good time for well owners
to put “Test Well” on their “to-do” list, say state well management
MDH recommends that private wells be tested once a year for total coliform
bacteria, an indicator of bacterial contamination. Testing for nitrate is
recommended every two to three years – more often if nitrate has been
detected previously in the well or if an infant under the age of six months
will be consuming the water. In addition, MDH recommends that every well be
tested for arsenic at least once.
Testing your well is up to you. Getting your well tested is a relatively
simple process. Your local county health department may provide or arrange
for testing services. Commercial (or private) laboratories providing water
testing services are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under “Laboratories –
Testing.” You should check to make sure the laboratory is certified to
perform tests that you want. The laboratory will provide directions for
collecting and submitting water samples for testing. The costs for analysis
are usually in the range of $20 to $40 per test, depending on what is tested.
More information on well testing can be found at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/test.html.
People with questions about well water contaminants – or other well
related issues – can obtain advice from MDH, their local health department,
or local MDH-licensed well contractors. Well specialists are available to
answer questions at MDH district offices in Bemidji (218-308-2100), Duluth
(218-723-4642), Fergus Falls (218-332-5150), Marshall (507-537-7151),
Rochester (507-206-2700), St. Cloud (320-223-7300), and the Twin Cities (651-201-4600).
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