Water Testing for Homeowners and Private Well Owners

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Video: How to Collect a Water Sample

715-346-3209 | weal@uwsp.edu

Why does my water have a strange smell or taste?
What is causing the staining on my fixtures?
How hard is my water?

How can I be sure that my water safe to drink?

The UWSP WEAL is here to answer these questions for you and offer solutions. We recommend having your water tested annually for certain parameters like bacteria and nitrate.

How do I get my water tested?​

Let us send you a kit! Feel free to call, email, or request a test kit online.
Pick-up: Your local Extension office may have kits available, or stop by the lab at the UW-Stevens Point Natural Resources Building, Room 200 (Click to find us on --> Google Maps).

How do I know which water tests to choose?​

A wide range of water tests are available to private well owners. See list below.
Need assistance? Feel free to contact us: 715-346-3209 | weal@uwsp.edu

Homeowner Package​ - $60

  • Basic package. Choose this package if you are unsure of which tests to perform.
  • Includes the two most important tests to perform routinely on a well (bacteria and nitrate)​
Total Coliform Bacteria*​ Test to make sure your water is free of bacteria. Run this test routinely.
Nitrate+Nitrogen*​ Nitrate is the most common chemical contaminant in Wisconsin groundwater. (Sources: fertilizers, septic systems or manure/bio-solid applications). This test serves as an indicator of land-use impacts and may indicate the presence of other contaminants such as pesticides.​
pH​ and Alkalinity
Useful in assessing the corrosivity of water to plumbing.​
Total Hardness​ Measures calcium and magnesium. Important for water softening considerations.​
Chloride​ Another indicator of overall water quality and land-use impacts. If elevated indicates contamination from septic systems, fertilizers, or road salts.
Conductivity​ Measure of total dissolved minerals in water. Changes in conductivity over time may be indicative of contamination from surrounding land-use activities.
Corrosivity This is a calculation to determine whether your water will form scale or be corrosive.​
​ * Test important to health​

Metals Package​ - $57

Consider testing 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/lead components​.
Arsenic*​ Occurs naturally in Wisconsin's groundwater. Recommend every well test for arsenic at least once to determine if it's in your water.  Note: The arsenic result from the metals package is a screening tool that will help you understand if your well is likely to contain arsenic at levels of concern for drinking, it cannot be used to satisfy testing requirements following well/pump work or for a well inspection.
Lead*​ Found in water systems with brass fixtures, lead pipes or lead solder (prior to 1985), especially water systems with soft or corrosive water. Amounts are usually lower after water is allowed to run for several minutes.
Copper*​ Only a concern if you have copper plumbing. Can be found in toxic concentrations when naturally soft or corrosive water sits in contact with copper plumbing for extended periods of time. If using for drinking water simply run your faucet for two minutes first thing in the morning and after being gone more than six hours to flush water that has been standing in pipes.​
Iron​ Naturally occurring mineral that causes taste problems and staining of household fixtures (orange-brown) and laundry.​
Manganese*​ Health concerns if found in high concentrations. Also causes aesthetic problems such as staining (black-brown) of household fixtures or formation of black precipitates (specks) in water.
Zinc*​ Found in water systems that contain zinc in the plumbing system (ex. galvanized pipes). More likely to be elevated in water system with naturally soft or corrosive water. Can occur naturally in parts of the state.​
Calcium​ Naturally occurring in Wisconsin groundwater. Particularly high in areas where wells extend into limestone or dolomite aquifers. Causes hard water problems.
Magnesium​ Naturally occurring in Wisconsin groundwater. Particularly high in areas where wells extend into limestone or dolomite aquifers. Causes hard water problems.​
Sodium*​ Sodium is associated with increased blood pressure in certain individuals. Generally found at low levels in groundwater. Elevated levels may indicate impacts from road salt or septic systems. If test indicates high levels of sodium and near absent levels of calcium and magnesium, it more than likely indicates that the water sample is from water that has passed through a water softener.
Potassium​ Elevated levels may indicate impacts from animal waste or fertilizer. May also be found at higher levels if homeowner is using potassium chloride in their water softener.​
Sulfate* Naturally occurring in some parts of Wisconsin. High concentrations create an off-taste and have a laxative effect in humans. At extremely high levels, may affect milk production in cows.​
​ *Test important to health​


Consider testing if:

  • Your well is within 1/4 mile of any corn fields
  • Previous tests indicated elevated levels of nitrate (likely caused by agricultural fertilizers)


Diaminochlorotriazine (DACT) Screen​ - $35

This is a test that detects agricultural 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.​

Chloroacetanilide Herbicide Metabolites (CAAM) - $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

  Nitrogen and Phosphorus Containing Pesticides (NP) - $132

This test is for those who have a reason to suspect contamination, or who have had a triazine test greater than 2.0 ppb. We usually recommend homeowners have their water tested for nitrate+nitrite(N) and DACT before going ahead with this test. These pesticides are commonly used in Wisconsin agriculture. This test does not cover all pesticides. If there's concern of pesticide use on nearby corn and soybean fields, this test may be appropriate.

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

​Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) - $210

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

A screening tool to investigate the presence of human waste that may be impacting a well or surface water body. We test for 13 compounds including artificial sweeteners, antibiotics, and other personal care products.

Your sample results and an interpetation guide will be sent to you within 10 working days after your sample is received in the lab. Additional information may be included if your results indicate a problem.

Community well water education programs are also available; visit here for further information.


Contact: 715-346-3209 | weal@uwsp.edu