Submitted by Patty Jackson, St. Croix County Public Health

NEW RICHMOND, WI -- St. Croix County Public Health is encouraging all St. Croix County residents whose drinking water is supplied by a private well, to get their water tested once a year.

“Clean, safe drinking water is one of the most important elements of good health,” said Ed Thurman, Environmental Health Specialist.  “Testing their well water on an annual basis is one of the easiest things private well owners can do to take care of their health and the health of their loved ones.”  Water should also be tested if you notice a change in taste, smell, appearance, flow, or after flooding.

By law, municipalities regularly test their drinking water supplies to ensure they are safe. But with private wells, it’s the well owner’s responsibility.  According to state officials, Wisconsin has approximately 1 million private wells, but most aren’t tested for coliform bacteria and other contaminants on the recommended annual basis.  Many of these contaminants can cause sickness in people who drink, bathe or cook with the water.

St. Croix County Public Health Department is recommending that every private well owner in St. Croix County test his or her well water for coliform bacteria.  Coliform bacteria are microorganisms that can be found in human and animal waste, in soil, on vegetation and in surface water runoff.  While rarely causing illness themselves, coliform bacteria are used as an indicator.  The presence of coliform bacteria in the well water indicates that other bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause illness may also be present.

A well should also be tested for nitrate if there are infants under the age of six months or women of childbearing age drinking the water.  Nitrate can cause a serious health condition in infants called “blue baby syndrome,” which has symptoms similar to suffocation. 

Research has also shown a connection between high nitrate levels in water and birth defects and miscarriages in pregnant women.

For more information on how to have your private well tested, contact Ed Thurman at 715-246-8370 or Patty Jackson at 715-246-8330, search the internet/Google, or check your local yellow pages for a certified environmental laboratory that performs private well water testing.