Private Well Water Safety
Residents are encouraged to test the safety of private well water. The testing of private wells used for drinking water is the responsibility of individual owners. There are an estimated 25,000 wells in service throughout Anoka County. Only a small percentage of private wells are tested annually.
Well Water Wise
The Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services Department, in cooperation with 12 municipalities, sponsors its annual "Well Water Wise" (3W) promotion in May of each year to encourage residents to check the safety of their private well water.
Anoka County's 3W promotion coincides with National Safe Drinking Water Week. The purpose of 3W is to raise awareness of the need to test and maintain the safety of household wells. Residents are encouraged to perform an annual sanitary analysis to determine the concentration of nitrate-nitrogen and the presence of coliform bacteria in their drinking water supply.
Anoka County residents may pick up a well water test kit at participating city and township offices, or in the county's Environmental Services Unit, Room 360 of the Anoka County Government Center located at 2100 Third Avenue in Anoka.
Water samples can be submitted to the county's Environmental Services Unit for analysis every Monday from 8AM to 4:15PM and Tuesday from 8AM to Noon. During 3W week, samples can be submitted Monday through Thursday (8AM to 4:30PM) and Friday (before noon). The well water testing kit will include details about water collection and submission. A laboratory fee of $30 will be charged.
Dangers of Untested Well Water
Unlike public water utilities, private well water is not treated with chlorine to kill bacteria. Simply looking at the appearance of drinking water is not a reliable indicator of whether it is safe to drink. An annual coliform bacteria test is a good way to ensure that water continues to be free of bacteria.
Nitrate-nitrogen occurs naturally in groundwater and in wells at concentrations below one milligram per liter (mg/L). The Minnesota Department of Health has established a Health Risk Limit (HRL) for nitrate-nitrogen at 10 mg/L. Levels above that point may pose an immediate risk to infants and pregnant women. Nitrogen can seep into private wells from a variety of sources including septic systems, nitrogen fertilizers, animal feedlots, and landfills.
In addition to testing for nitrate-nitrogen and the presence of coliform bacteria, the Community Health and Environmental Services Department also can provide analyses for:
- Total hardness