We recently received an email from ‘Janelle’ in North Carolina who wrote,

“I’m trying to find someone to come test my well water. I’m in Reidsville, NC. And we are just renters I have never had well water before and I would like to know what’s in it. When it rains really hard for a few days the water smells like fish. Then sometimes like onion do you know of a company that test wells in Reidsville??”

While we do not know of a specific company that tests well water in your area, Janelle, we suggest contacting your local health department and asking them if they can provide you with a list of qualified local water testing laboratories.

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We took the liberty of doing a quick Google Search for ‘well water testing in Reidsville, NC’ (click the link, Janelle!) and while no immediate matches popped up, a few companies appeared to have locations w/in 20 or 30 miles of where you live, Janelle.

You should also check out the EPA’s North Carolina Water Page. It contains a number of links and phone numbers that may prove useful.

Regarding the ‘fishy smell’ in well water?

Without actually testing the water we suspect that your water may contain some form of organic matter whose levels change in accordance with the changing of the level of the aquifer from which your well draws its water. From what we have read the organic matter usually does not pose much of a health threat, though in some instances it can, and it typically poses more of an aesthetic nuisance than anything else.

Sources also indicated that certain types of bacteria in one’s well may also cause well water to possess a fishy smell at times.

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Regarding the ‘onion smell’ in well water?

Most resources we viewed suggested changing the anode rod in the hot water heater since it, over time, can begin collecting mineral deposits or fail in other ways that can result in water coming from the water heater smelling like onions and sometimes, though we neglected to mention this in the previous section, like fish.

Treating for onion water and fishy water?

As noted a moment ago, making sure the anode rod in the water heater has not gone bad or become encrusted with unwanted mineral deposits makes for a wise course of action if water in a home has taken on an onion or fishy smell.

One site we found said the following about diagnosing and treating water that contained foul odors:

“This type of odor may indicate the presence of organic (non-pathogenic) matter. The most common method of treatment for this type of odor is activated carbon filtration or chlorination followed by carbon filtration. It is helpful to attempt to diagnose the cause of the odor so that proper treatment is designed. You may also test your well water for bacteria and nitrates to confirm portability of the water.” ( source )

No matter what, though, Janelle, make sure you get the water tested by a certified water testing laboratory — preferably one that specializes in diagnosing problems with well water.