Ginger Davis, Conservation Administrator
Groundwater—its depth from the surface, quality for use as drinking water, and chance of being polluted—varies from place to place. Much of Indiana groundwater is safe for human use. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) reports that 80% of wells tested in Indiana are clean, clear, and safe for consumption without treatment. However, groundwater contamination can and does happen, so well owners must be vigilant in protecting water supplies. Well owners should test their water regularly and maintain wells to safeguard their drinking water. Because we value our independence in Indiana, private wells are not regulated. This means it is your responsibility to ensure you have safe drinking water from your well.
Testing your well water is an important step to safeguard the water for our community and to provide yourself with security that you’re consuming safe drinking water. Well testing can be confusing because there are many options and owners do not always know what to test for. The main thing to consider is what may be influencing the groundwater in your area. Knowing what is going on the ground within a mile radius around your well will give you a good idea of what may influence your water. Well water is normally free and clear of contamination. However, when spills or heavy pumping of production wells occur in an area, it can change the quality of the water in your well. The best way to be sure your well water is clean is to test your water regularly and get to know your water. That way if you notice a change, you can take action and have something to compare it too. You should also share the information with your neighbors, as they may be drinking from the same water supply or very similar water.
On an annual, or yearly, basis every well owner should test for some basics like bacteria (total coliform, and E. coli), nitrates & nitrites, arsenic, pH, total dissolved solids, and anything that has come back high in any other full suite testing you have done previously. Sometimes testing more often is warranted in special situations like:
If you have never tested your water before, it is a good idea to get a full suite of parameters checked once every 5-10 years. This can include a lot of individual tests, but we have narrowed it down to some groups and your area will help to provide guidance to which tests are important within each group. The groups of test types include basic physical characterizations (pH, TDS, alkalinity, turbidity, and hardness), heavy metals, inorganics, volatile organic compounds, radiological, and pesticides.
Now you may be thinking, “Wow, I did not realize I needed to be a chemist to own a well?!?” and we can completely understand why you may have not tested before. It is a bit overwhelming. We suggest you talk with your doctor and other professionals in your area that may be able to provide some guidance.
With your help to monitor our groundwater we can ensure that the water in our community is safe for all users. It is important to seek help when you have potential contaminants so we can help notify others that may be impacted.
With COVID many of our laboratory options were closed and replacing these options has been a challenge. We are working to provide more options and re-launch our testing program. We are excited that some new options are available, and more packages will be rolling out soon. Our first option is now available.
New Annual Water Testing Package
We have developed an Annual Well Water Testing Package that includes many of the tests recommended by our health departments, IDEM and others focusing on providing information to well owners. The Annual Well Water Testing Package includes many of the previously available test from our Certified Laboratory partner the Indiana State Department of Health Laboratory but has neatly placed these into a package for ease in choosing tests.
The Annual Well Testing Package Cost $65 (including shipping).
It comes with the following testing resources:
Lab Certified Bacteria sample bottle (Cost $15 +$10 shipping, if purchased individually)
total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli)
-positive or negative results
Lab Certified Nitrate+Nitrite sample bottle (Cost $15 +$10 shipping, if purchased individually)
nitrate + nitrite as N
Lab Certified Simple Metal sample bottle (Cost $25 +$10 shipping, if purchased individually)
arsenic, lead, and copper
Along with the sample bottles you will receive some self-screening tools for:
We will provide sample bottles, testing strips, and a TDS meter (to borrow and bring back with the sample bottles) that are supplied to the tester along with instructions and a place to write your results. You would take the kit home, fill the bottles according to the instructions, use the strips and meter (writing down your results), and then bring back the bottles (to be analyzed at the lab), meter, and results. Once the laboratory analysis is complete (in 4-6 weeks), we will send you the result sheet from the lab, a one-page analysis of the results, and recommendations of next steps.
We are always available to provide water test analysis of any results and can provide you lists to private laboratories that are certified in the state, if you prefer your water tested elsewhere. Please visit our website hamiltonswcd.org/well-water-testing for more information or contact our office firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317-773-2181 for more details.