We are all dependent on water, and here in Wisconsin, almost 40 percent of households rely on private wells. Private well owners deserve to know whether their water is safe for their family. Regular water quality testing can be one way to bring peace of mind.

Earlier this year, a groundwater study reported that 42 percent of southwest Wisconsin wells were contaminated with hazardous materials. Wells contaminated with bacteria, nitrates, and heavy metals can lead to various issues such as nausea and diarrhea. Drinking contaminated water during pregnancy can also cause serious issues such as brain malformation in infants.

Other studies completed in northeastern Wisconsin found similar levels of well contamination. This suggests that well contamination may not be just a regional or isolated issue.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends private well owners test their water on an annual basis. Changes to the color, taste, or smell of one’s water can also warrant additional testing. The DNR maintains a list of private laboratories certified to test well water. Currently, there is one in St. Croix County and one in Dunn County. Self-testing kits are also available online and at certain retail stores, with prices starting at about $25. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.