Test Your Water: National Groundwater Awareness Week

What do you know about your water quality? March 5-11th is National Groundwater Awareness Week. The Lincoln County Health Department reminds well owners to test their private well once per year. Test any time you notice a change in how the water looks, tastes or smells. Even if your water looks, tastes and smells good, it can have harmful germs.

Most bacteria do not cause harm to humans. Some occur naturally in soils, vegetation and insects. Others however, can come from fecal matter. The presence of bacteria in well water can be a sign of other problems with your well. “Testing your water annually can easily be made part of your spring cleanup or maintenance schedule. Water quality can change from year to year, that is why it is important to have your water tested annually,” says Meghan Williams, Registered Environmental Health Specialist at the Lincoln County Health Department.

Nitrates in well water may also be a health concern. Drinking large amounts of water with nitrates can be very harmful to infants (for example, when mixed in formula) and pregnant women.

Knowing what is in your drinking water allows you to take steps to protect your family.

For those with private wells:

  • Have your water tested each year.
  • Have your well system professionally inspected each year.
  • Be up to date on the cleaning and inspection of your septic system.
  • Keep toxins, septic tanks, and animal waste away from your well.
  • Get rid of chemicals and motor oil properly.
  • Avoid putting waste chemicals in your septic system.
  • Keep your well records in a safe place.

The following are things everyone can do:

  • Follow home and yard spray guides and get rid of it the right way after use.
  • Drop off all unused pills at the police station or drug store.
  • Find out how much water your house uses, and then install water-saving gear.
  • Find ways to lower the amount of water loss.

Lincoln County Health Department has a lab for testing drinking water. The lab can test for bacteria and nitrates only. Water sampling bottles are available for pick-up at the Lincoln County Health Department 607 N. Sales Street Suite 101, in Merrill Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:30pm. Drinking water samples should be taken the same day as they are brought in for testing and can be dropped off at the Lincoln County Health Department Monday-Wednesday 8:30am-3:30pm.

To test for other items in your water, you can contact one of the following: Marathon County Health Department at 715-261-1900, or the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene at 608-224-6202 or 800-442-4618.Lincoln County Health Department is always working for a safer and healthier Lincoln County.

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