Should I Test My Water?
We recommend that all private well owners periodically test their drinking water. If you get your water from a public water supply, the operator of the public system is required to test the water on a regular basis and report results to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
What Should I Test For?
Depending on the location of your well, there are several contaminants that you should consider testing for. All drinking water wells should be tested periodically for:
- Bacteria (annually - available here at the Health Dept.)
- Nitrate (every 2-3 years; if elevated, re-test more often)
- Arsenic (every 2-5 years; if elevated, re-test more often)
Drinking water in older homes should be tested at least once at the indoor tap for:
- Lead (generally comes from plumbing, not well water)
Testing for other contaminants may be appropriate in locations where there are potential sources of concern or evidence of historic contamination:
- Volatile Organic Chemicals also called VOCs
Contact the Water Quality District for recommendations for your specific location.
Household wells should be tested periodically as mentioned above. Have a competent laboratory test your water annually for total and fecal coliform bacteria (from human and animal wastes), nitrate, arsenic, total dissolved solids and pH levels. The Missoula City-County Health Department Lab can test your water for bacteria. If you suspect other contaminants are present, tests for these should also be done. Some chemical tests are expensive, so you will want to reduce the list by identifying potential contaminants specific to your situation.
You can have your water tested for bacteria at the Missoula City-County Health Department. Find out more about our lab services.