The Green Lake County Health Department has secured an Environmental Health Tracking Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to protect and enhance the groundwater in Green Lake County. The Health Department is working with several other departments, agencies, and individuals to get representative well samples to finish a baseline study throughout the County.
Why should I test my well? As a private well owner or private well consumer, groundwater is used on a daily basis for laundry, drinking, cooking, bathing and watering your garden. Since there is no requirement to test your well for unsafe contaminants other than when it is first drilled, it is your responsibility to make sure your water is safe for your family. It is important to note that even if your test results exceed the state standards, there are no requirements that any action be taken to alleviate the problem. However, there are several recommendations that can be followed to assure that your water source is safe.
What tests will be done on my water? There are two main tests that will be performed on your well water: nitrate and coliform bacteria. Nitrates form when nitrogen from fertilizers, animal wastes, septic systems, municipal sewage sludge, decaying plants and other sources combines with oxygenated water. Use of water supplies that exceed 10 mg/L nitrates can result in cancer, birth defects and other adverse health effects such as a serious condition for infants under 6 months old called "blue-baby syndrome".
Coliform bacteria live in the soil, on vegetation and in surface water. Most coliform bacteria do not cause illness, but indicate a breach in the water supply. However, since E.coli bacteria are found in fecal material, they are often present with bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. If coliform bacteria is found to be present in your well water, an E.coli test will also be done to make sure your water is safe. In addition, kits will test for hardness, alkalinity, conductivity, pH, and chloride. This is a $55 value.
How can I participate? If you would like to apply for a free water test kit for your well, you can register online here or contact the Land Conservation Department at (920) 294-4051 by December 6th, 2019. We currently have a lot of existing well data throughout the County, but there are many areas where no data exists. Due to the limited amount of grant money, free tests will be based on a first come basis; however, areas with no historical test data will be a priority. Landowner information and test results will not be released to the public. The samples will be represented as a value for a particular section on a map.
The actual test kits will be distributed in late February or March of 2020 at two sites in the county, yet to be determined. Those participating will be notified prior to the event of the exact date, time, and location for picking up kits. Once you receive your kit, you will need to collect the water sample and return it to the same site. County staff will take all water samples to UW-Stevens Point for testing.
Everyone should enjoy clean and safe water for their families. By participating in the well testing program, you can have peace of mind of the status of your water and you will be doing your part in helping Green Lake County establish information to keep our groundwater safe.
Don't forget to sign up before the December 6th deadline.
For questions, contact Kathy Munsey, Green Lake County Health Officer