Unlike public drinking water systems, private wells do not have trained water operators regularly checking their water quality. Private well owners, therefore, are solely responsible for the testing and safety of their drinking water. They can protect their water supply by performing routine maintenance checks on their system, including a yearly water test for total coliform bacteria (including E. coli) and nitrate.
Order a Water Sampling Kit
To order a water sampling kit for total coliform bacteria (including E. coli) and nitrate testing, please fill out the following form, and a kit will be sent to you shortly. The kit includes a sample information form, two sample bottles and collection instructions. Please follow the instructions carefully and send the water samples back to us for testing.
- Coliform Action Response
- County Sanitarians
- Drinking Water Analysis
- Bottle Water Basics
- Flood Health and Safety
- Sample Collection Instructions
- Home Treatment System
- Drinking Water from Household Wells (EPA publication)
- IDNR Well Flood Information
- IDNR Private Well Booklet
- ISU Extension Well Safety
- Bacteriological Analyses for Swimming Pools and Whirlpools/Spas
Test Result Availability
Once the State Hygienic Laboratory receives and processes your sample, the results will be mailed to you. You can expect to receive the results normally within a week of sample collection. If you need results sooner, please contact us at 1-800-421-4692 (IOWA) to make other arrangements.
Testing City Water
If you live within the city limits, you probably receive your water from the city public water supply that is routinely tested for many parameters, including total coliform bacteria and nitrate. It is usually not necessary for private individuals to test this water. If you have concerns about the city’s water quality, we encourage you to consult your city water department or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Field Offices.
Additional Water Quality Tests
All drinking water tests that are performed at the Hygienic Laboratory are available, but not all of these tests are necessary, and they can be expensive. For more information, see Additional Water Quality Tests.
If a specific contamination problem is suspected (e.g. a nearby chemical or gasoline spill or a back-siphoning accident), contact your County Sanitarians.