Registration for the next round of voluntary well testing in Kewaunee County begins Monday, and the testing will take place May 15.

This is the annual well testing offered by Kewaunee County to interested landowners, and separate from the tests being done in a general study of groundwater contamination in the county; those tests were performed last April, August and November with two rounds more scheduled this year.

Results have shown well contamination from both bovine and human fecal sources. Researchers want to know the link between contamination and well construction, hydrogeological and environmental variables. Kewaunee and Door counties have a unique fractured bedrock known as karst, which allows pollutants to seep into groundwater systems more easily.

Davina Bonness, county conservationist and head of the Land and Water Conservation Department, prepared this explanation of the well testing program:

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Groundwater is vital to all of us living in Wisconsin , and the coming of spring represents an important time for our groundwater resources. This time of year is especially critical for individuals who rely on well water or a private well for their drinking water supply.

While all groundwater originates as precipitation, melting snow and spring rains generally provide the largest contribution of groundwater recharge to our aquifers each year. Because recharge during this time can occur rapidly, bacterial contamination of wells often occurs during these periods of the year.

This is especially true for wells located in karst regions, areas where soil layers are thin or absent and bedrock is highly fractured. Some well owners may actually notice their well water change appearance or odor after large rain events or snowmelts.

Coliform bacteria tests are an easy way to determine whether your water supply is bacteriologically safe to drink. Coliform bacteria are common in soils and are not generally considered harmful to health, however; they are also found in human and animal waste. For this reason a coliform bacteria test is used as an indication of the sanitary condition of a water supply.

A sanitary water supply or properly constructed well should not contain any coliform bacteria; there presence in well water indicates a pathway for other potentially dangerous pathogens such as E. coli, a type of fecal coliform, to enter the water supply. If pathogens are in fact present, a variety of illnesses could occur from drinking the water.

You should be testing your well water for coliform bacteria annually or any time you notice a sudden change in color, odor or taste; think of it like going to the doctor for a check-up.

In addition to coliform bacteria, there are a number of other contaminants that well owners should consider testing for. Some of these include human related contaminants such as nitrate and pesticides or naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic.

Since August 2004, approximately 29 percent of wells tested through this voluntary program have tested unsafe due to nitrates greater than 10.0 ppm and/or bacteria present.

Available Packages:

1. Homeowner’s Package: $49 per well and tests for includes bacteria, nitrate, alkalinity, chloride, conductivity, corrosivity index, hardness, and pH.

2. Metals Package: $49 per well and tests for arsenic, calcium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sulfate, sodium, and zinc.

3. Diaminochlorotriazine (DACT, a breakdown of atrazine and related herbicides): $27

4. All Three Packages: $117

The program is limited to 150 well samples, distributed on a first come, first served basis.

Any interested private well owner, mail or drop off a check for the appropriate amount to the Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Department, 625 Third Street, Luxemburg, WI 54217.

Please include phone number, package you are registering for, and an email address for future notices.

If you have any questions, please contact: Davina Bonness, Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Department at 920-845-9743 or bonnessd@kewauneeco.org.