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Water from a home or cabin well should be tested to be certain that it remains safe to drink. Anoka County Environmental Services recommends that private well owners test annually for total coliform bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen. Go to the Environmental Services well water testing web page for information.

A total coliform bacteria test will determine if the well water contains micro-organisms that can cause illness. Symptoms of waterborne diseases may include gastrointestinal illnesses such as severe diarrhea, nausea, and possibly jaundice as well as associated headaches and fatigue.

A nitrate-nitrogen test will determine if a common water pollutant is present in the well that may cause serious health problems for pregnant women and infants. Nitrate levels in Anoka County groundwater are usually less than 1 milligram per liter (mg/L) of nitrate-nitrogen. However, where sources of nitrate such as fertilizers, animal wastes, or human sewage are concentrated near the ground surface, nitrate may seep down – through our sandy soils – polluting groundwater and contaminating nearby drinking water wells. The safe drinking water level for nitrate-nitrogen is 10 mg/L.

Pick up a well water testing kit at the Environmental Services Unit, Suite 600 in the Anoka County Government Center in Anoka or at city/township/county offices: Andover, Bethel, Blaine, Centerville, Columbus, East Bethel, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Linwood, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Ramsey, St. Francis, the Anoka Conservation District (1318 McKay Drive NW, Ham Lake) and the Anoka County Extension Service at the Bunker Activities Center (550 Bunker Lake Blvd. NW., Andover).

Anoka County Environmental Services accepts water sample every Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to Noon. The laboratory charge for coliform bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen analysis is $30. Sample are not accepted on national holidays.

Additional Water Testing for arsenic, lead, fluoride and other drinking water concerns are available. Call the Environmental Services Unit at 763-422-7063 for more information.

A word about arsenic. Approximately 1-in-10 Anoka County private wells tested for arsenic have unsafe levels above 10 micrograms per liter (μg/L). Private well owners are encouraged to test their water for arsenic. If the arsenic concentration in your drinking water is above the safe drinking water standard you will be provided with information to reduce your exposure and protect your family’s health.

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