Lower Elkhorn NRD Encourages Testing Your Private Well

Lower Elkhorn NRD Encourages Testing Your Private Well


NORFOLK, Nebraska -- Water that looks and tastes good may not necessarily be safe to drink. If your water comes from a well, annual testing is an important part of maintaining a safe source of drinking water. Regular testing helps well owners identify contamination problems and make informed decisions about how the water will be used, especially if it’s being consumed by humans and animals.

“The only way to tell if your drinking water is safe is by having it tested by a certified laboratory,” said David Miesbach, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy groundwater section supervisor. “Harmful bacteria are invisible to the naked eye.”

The quality of a water source may change over time or sometimes suddenly. Annual testing will help the owner track these changes.

“Frequent water testing will identify unsafe water,” Miesbach said. “Certain chemical contaminants that are sometimes found in a water source can cause long term health problems that take years to develop.” 

If a well owner has a treatment system in place, yearly checkups are also needed to ensure the system is treating the water to a satisfactory level.

“The upper limit for nitrate is 10 milligrams per liter in drinking water,” added Miesbach. “Your local health department can assist in selecting the appropriate test kit for your well and can refer you to a certified laboratory in your area.”

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is also able to test your domestic well water.

“We recently started working with the University of Nebraska Medical Center to test domestic wells for nitrate, pesticides, uranium and arsenic,” said Julie Wragge, LENRD information and education specialist. “It’s so important to know if your water is safe.” 

Contact the Lower Elkhorn NRD in Norfolk if you’re interested in getting your well water tested.

Even those who get their water from a municipal source should be aware of nitrate levels in their drinking water, noted Wragge.

“If you don’t own a private well, it’s still very important to know what’s in your water,” she said. "Contact your city office or visit their website to find out what they test for and what they do locally to protect the resource.”