We recently learned that the McHenry County Department of Health (located in Illinois) intends to offer a discounted water testing package to local homeowners with private water wells in the month of April 2016. The package will include a test for coliform bacteria and nitrates for a cost of $18.
Why test my well water?
Many potentially harmful well water contaminants have no taste, color or odor and may enter aquifers from which drinking water wells without notice. Municipal water supplies that draw from the same aquifers as local private water wells perform regular tests on their water (as mandated by law) so any changes would get noticed and corrected immediately where as no laws mandate testing of private wells… meaning private well owners would continue using contaminated water because they did not know of water quality issues.
How does well water contamination occur?
Despite the fact that wells draw their water from sources hundreds or possibly thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface, any source of contamination on the Earth’s surface can eventually makes its way into our subterranean water sources.
Potential sources of surface contamination that can trickle into our water supply include animal waste (pick up after your dogs, people!), wastewater from industry, sewer and sewage system overflows, tainted storm water runoff (don’t dump things into the sewers, people!), excessive fertilizer use in agriculture and on lawns, and in some cases pollutants come right out of Nature itself (examples: metals, arsenic, radon, uranium, etc.)
OK, so how do I get my water tested in McHenry County?
First, pick up a sterile water sampling container from one of the participating locations listed below. Then, return samples for testing on Tuesdays in April between 9 AM and noon at one of the same locations. Note: We suggest collecting your sample on the same day as you intend to drop it off for testing.
- Algonquin Township Office, 3702 Route 14, Crystal Lake, (847)639-2329
- Dorr Township Office, 1039 Lake St., Woodstock, (815) 338-0125
- McHenry County Dept. of Health, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock (815) 334-4585
- McHenry County Dept. of Health, 100 N. Virginia St., Crystal Lake (815) 459-5151
- McHenry Township Office, 3703 Richmond Road, McHenry (accepting samples from 8 AM to 4 PM Monday – Wednesday; and 8 AM to Noon on Thursdays) (815) 385-5605
- Nunda Township Office, 3510 Bay Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 459-4011
- City of Marengo, City Hall, 134 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
What if I want my water tested… but I live elsewhere?
Not all discounted (or free!) water testing opportunities offered by departments of health and other agencies get publicized as much as they should so we recommend contacting your local health department directly to see what they may offer.
For those interested in performing water testing on their own well or tap water, we offer a wide variety of DIY water test kits in the Water Test Kit Store.