Water testing

Water Test Kit QR codeWhile many private wells provide water that is safe, they should be tested regularly. Some contaminants can be seen or tasted while others require testing to detect. 

Private well owners are responsible for testing and maintaining their well. Unlike public water systems, private well owners are not required to regularly test their wells or correct water-quality problems. 

Southeastern Minnesota Water Analysis Laboratory: Click here to order a well test kit

Three routine tests every well owner should have done

Everyone is potentially at risk from the three most common contaminants in Minnesota well water.

  1. Bacteria - Every well should be tested once a year, and when you notice a change in taste, color or smell.
  2. Nitrate - Every well should be tested once a year, and before the well will be used by a woman who is or may become pregnant or if an infant under the age of 1 is in the household
  3. Arsenic - Test for arsenic at least once. Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks and soil across Minnesota and can dissolve into groundwater. Arsenic levels can vary between wells, even within a small area. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information: 

Additional testing for private well owners

You may consider additional testing to look for
  • Geologically occurring contaminants in the rock and soil that may enter the well.
  • Human caused contaminants from land-use, plumbing materials or other sources of pollution near the well.


  • Manganese - Test once for manganese, especially if you have an infant in the home, or notice brown or black staining or black sediment in the water.
  • Fluoride - Test for fluoride if you have an infant in the household or when you move into a home with a well. Your dentist and pediatrician will use this information to decide how much additional fluoride to recommend.

Human & Geologic

  • Chloride - Test annually to monitor for noticeable increases above background levels (1- 5mg/L across much of Minnesota). Higher levels of chloride indicate contamination by human activities, including potassium chloride fertilizer application on crops, road salt application, water softener discharge, human or animal waste disposal, and leachate from landfills.


  • Lead & Copper - Test once every five years or if the water will be used by a pregnant woman or infant. Lead and copper may be in your water from the plumbing materials in the home.
  • Pesticides - Consider this test if the home is within ¼ mile of agricultural fields or areas where pesticides are manufactured, stored or mixed.
  • VOCs - Volatile organic compounds testing is recommended for homes within ¼ mile of a landfill, industrial site, gas station or other underground tank, and especially if there is a chemical or fuel odor in the home.