Water Testing Blog loves to hear about local health departments taking the initiative to try and get residents to test their well water for potentially harmful contaminants. In this case, the health department in McHenry County, Illinois has stepped up to the plate by offering coliform bacteria and nitrate testing at a reduced cost until the end of August.
WOODSTOCK – McHenry County Department of Health will offer reduced fee water testing for individual well water users during the month of August.
Residents can have their well water sampled for coliform bacteria and nitrate for $18.
Testing wells regularly is the only way to determine whether well water is safe to drink, as many contaminants are colorless and odorless.
Water from a public or municipal water system regularly is tested for contaminants regulated by federal and state standards.
Bacteria and chemicals can get into well water and contaminate it in different ways.
Some bacteria and chemicals occur naturally.
Contaminants, such as nitrate, can come from animal waste, wastewater, flooded sewers, polluted storm water runoff, fertilizers, agricultural runoff, or decaying plants. High levels of nitrate in drinking water can cause illness in young children and pregnant women. Coliform bacteria are microbes found in the digestive systems of warm-blooded animals, in soil, on plants, and in surface water.
For a nominal charge, the health department also will sample private wells for nuisance chemicals resulting in water hardness, iron, discoloration and odor.
Sampling kits can be picked up at the health department in Woodstock or at one of eight drop-off centers. Samples can be dropped off for testing Tuesday mornings between 9 a.m. and noon at the following centers:
• Algonquin Township Office, 3702 Route 14, Crystal Lake; 847-639-2329.
• Dorr Township Office, 140 Newell St., Woodstock; 815-338-0125.
• McHenry Township Office, 3703 Richmond Road, McHenry; 815-385-5605.
• Nunda Township Office, 3510 Bay Road, Crystal Lake; 815-459-4011.
• Marengo City Hall, 132 E. Prairie St., Marengo; 815-568-7112.
• Harvard Police Department, 201 W Front St., Harvard; 815-943-4431.
• Richmond Township Office, 7812 S. Route 31, Richmond; 815-678-0077.
• Grafton Township Office, 10109 Vine St., Huntley; 847-669-3328.
For information about private well water, call the health department’s Environmental Division at 815-334-4585. ( source )
Many people believe coliform bacteria only get into OTHER people’s wells because THEY did something wrong… but in reality, something as simple heavy periods of rain causing a rise in the water table supplying a person’s well could result in the introduction of potentially harmful contaminants.
Also, the slightest crack in a well’s casing, which could come from age or a shifting in the ground surrounding the well, could serve as a very convenient point-of-entry for bacteria or other well water contaminants.