Water Testing

Water Testing

The Health Department provides private well water testing Monday – Thursday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at its office. Sterile bottles and sampling instructions are available during all working hours at the Health Department main office. The testing costs $20.00 per test and the water is analyzed for Total Coliforms, E-coli, and Nitrates.

Water Collection Instructions How to Shock Chlorinate Your Well
Water Testing — Benton County Health Department — Warsaw, MO

What are E-coli?

Fecal coliform bacteria are a specific kind of total coliform. The feces (or stool) and digestive systems of humans and warm-blooded animals contain millions of fecal coliforms. E. coli is part of the fecal coliform group and may be tested for by itself. Fecal coliforms and E. coli are usually harmless. However, a positive test may mean that feces and harmful germs have found their way into your water system. These harmful germs can cause diarrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis.


Nitrate is naturally found in many types of food. However, high levels of nitrate in drinking water can make people sick. Nitrate in your well water can come from animal waste, private septic systems, wastewater, flooded sewers, polluted storm water runoff, fertilizers, agricultural runoff, and decaying plants. The presence of nitrate in well water also depends on the geology of the land around your well. A nitrate test is recommended for all wells. If the nitrate level in your water is higher than the EPA standards, you should look for other sources of water or ways to treat your water. It is not recommended to drink water that has a high concentration of Nitrates or Nitrites.

When to Have Your Well Tested

  • At a minimum, check your well every spring to make sure there are no mechanical problems. But you should also check your well if you have any of the following;
  • There are known problems with well water in your area
  • You have experienced problems near your well (i.e., flooding, land disturbances, and nearby waste disposal sites)
  • You replace or repair any part of your well system
  • You notice a change in water quality (i.e., taste, color, odor)
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