Private Well Testing

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Wells and Drinking Water

All Carver County residents rely on groundwater for their water supply, whether it comes from a municipal water source or their own private well. Public water systems are tested regularly for a variety of contaminants; for private wells, regular testing is up to the well owner.

Well water quality can change for many different reasons including weather, repair of plumbing, age of well equipment, activities at the land surface, etc. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that private wells be tested annually to every two years depending on the potential contaminant (see below).

Test For Annually Every 2 Years Once

Total Coliform Bacteria








*Test annually or every two years and always test before giving to an infant.

Additional information on groundwater quality and potential contaminants can be found in the Carver County Groundwater Plan and on the Minnesota Department of Health website.


Testing Well Water

Carver County residents interested in testing drinking water can pick up a water test kit free of charge from the following locations:

  • Land Management Counter at the Carver County Government Center
  • Environmental Center
  • Extension Office at the Carver County Public Works Headquarters


Tips on Collecting the Sample

Follow the instructions included with the test kit carefully. Contact the lab if you have questions regarding the bottles or sampling procedures (1.800.782.3557).

  1. Collect the sample at the beginning of the week and mail or deliver to the Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratory, PO Box 249, 1126 North Front St, New Ulm, MN 56073. Samples must be received by the lab within 30 hours of collection.
  2. Coliform, Nitrates, and Iron Bacteria (125 ml bottle)
    1. Samples to be tested for Coliform, Nitrates, and Iron Bacteria must be collected from an outside source.
    2. The faucet spout should be sterilized with heat (e.g. a butane lighter) or rubbing alcohol.
    3. The water should run for 5 minutes prior to collecting the sample.
    4. Fill the bottles completely and seal.
  3. Arsenic*, Nitrate + Nitrite (500 ml bottle)
    1. Samples to be tested for Arsenic must be collected from an outside source.
    2. The faucet does not need to sterilized.
    3. Turn on the water and fill the bottle completely.
  4. Lead* (1 liter bottle – note this bottle is not included in the standard test kit)
    1. Samples to be tested for lead must be sampled from within the house.
    2. Water pipes must sit without being used for 6 hours prior to collecting the sample.
    3. Turn on the water and collect the first burst of water from the faucet.

*Note: Typically, a well is only tested for arsenic and lead when it is first installed. Minnesota Law requires well drillers to collect and test a water sample for bacteria, nitrate, arsenic, and lead and to provide the test results to homeowners.


What to do when Water is Unsafe

If test results show that your water exceeds the safe limit for a particular contaminant, you can contact the Well Management Section of the Minnesota Department of Health for additional information: 1.800.383.9808 or 651.201.4600.


Sealing Unused Wells

Unused wells that are not properly sealed pose a safety, health, and environmental threat to your family and community as well as a potential legal risk to the homeowner. The State of Minnesota requires that abandoned or unused well be sealed by a well contractor licensed in the State of Minnesota. Carver County has a Cost Share Program for sealing unused wells. Download an application here.