Starting in 1974 all water wells built in Minnesota need to meet the requirements of the Minnesota Well Code. A properly constructed and maintained well will deliver many years of clean, clear water for your use. As wells age they may start to deteriorate, losing their ability to keep contaminants out of your water system. This is why lenders will routinely require testing when you are looking to purchase new property. It is also why the Minnesota Department of Health recommends that any private well be regularly tested to ensure your well water is safe.
The most common water testing is for bacterial contamination, but you should also have your water tested for lead, nitrates, arsenic, and nitrites. These tests should be performed on your well on a regular schedule.
Cholorform bacteria and nitrates become part of the water system when fertilizers, solid waste, and other problematic materials from surface contamination or your septic system enter the well system.
Lead can enter your water through the brass and other types materials used for your plumbing system. Particularly in older homes, there may be faucets, valves, fittings, and connectors that either contain lead or used lead solder.
Arsenic occurs naturally in about half the wells in Minnesota, and about 10 percent of Minnesota wells produce water which exceeds 10 micrograms per liter (parts per billion), the state health level. Arsenic is more prevalent in western Minnesota, but can occur almost anywhere in the state. Arsenic in our region’s water is very uncommon. The Minnesota Department of Health is currently studying arsenic in the Minnesota water system and is recommending that wells tested at least once.
Nitrites occur in well water systems about 20% of the time, but have not been an issue in our region. High nitrite levels in drinking water can pose special risks for infants. Unlike water contaminated with cholorform bacteria, boiling water with high nitrite levels prior to drinking it is not recommended because this will actually increase the nitrite levels in the water.
Unless you have stinky, sulfur-smelling water, testing will be done prior to any chlorination treatment.