We think it’s terrific when a local health department takes the initiative to make it easy for well owners in their jurisdiction to have their water tested for key contaminants.
I ran across this news article from a county northwest of Chicago, McHenry County, that is offering well owners a water test for coliform bacteria and nitrate for only $18. Since these are the dangerous to humans and pets, all well owners in the county should take advantage of this offer. All you need to do is pick up the sterile vials, fill them with your unfiltered well water and drop them off for testing.
We hope more and more health departments start doing this. I can’t tell you how many well owners we talk with who have never—as in ‘never’—had their well water tested. I guess they figure if they are still alive, and the water tastes and looks fine, and they have no problems.
We know that’s not necessarily true. About 25 to 30% of the well water we test has an unhealthy level of pathogenic bacteria. That’s a very high percentage. These are hidden contaminants because you cannot see them, smell them or taste them. In addition to coliform bacteria, there are also other ‘hidden’ bacteria such as H. pylori that can cause peptic ulcer disease, or giardia lamblia that can cause serious illness with symptoms such as stomach pains, diarrhea, and dehydration.
These ‘hidden’ bacteria are not easy, or inexpensive to test for. That’s why they are not normally included in standard tests.
Treating for all bacteria including coliform and the ‘hidden’ bacteria is not hard. In fact, we put together a kit that you can use to sanitize your well. As long as you can remove the cap to your wellhead and can run water from hose connected to an outside faucet, you can easily do this. Not only did we make it affordable, but you will do a better job than the average ‘expert’.
Bottom line: have your well water tested at least once a year and sanitize your well annually.
We’ve made a video you can view for free that explains, in terms the well owner can understand, more about wells and how to treat them: The Why and How Behind Chlorination
You can read the article about the well water testing available for McHenry County IL well owners McHenry County IL Well Water Testing.