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Whatcom County Health Department
Drinking Water Program, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (360) 676-6724
E-mail: Environmental Health


Water Testing

Questions and Answers about Private Well Water Testing

What should I test my private well water for?
Water Quality Fact Sheets

Every well should be tested once a year for:

If you live in an agricultural area (or in an area where pesticides  are commonly used) or have a shallow well, you should also test your well for the  following:

  • ethylene dibromide (EDB)
  • 1,2-dichloropropane (1,2-DCP)
  • 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)
  • Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC) - this test will detect  1,2-dichloropropane (1,2-DCP) along with a wide range of other chemicals.
  • Nitrate and coliform bacteria tests provide a good idea of the  overall water quality of your well at a reasonable cost. The presence of nitrates or  coliform bacteria in a well can result in serious immediate health problems.
  • If any test is unsatisfactory, we recommend you consider repeating  that specific test.

Where do I go to have my water tested?

Certified laboratories

How much does the testing cost?

The price range for testing is $18.00 - $350.00 depending on the  laboratory and what compounds you would like to have tested. We recommend you call several  labs.

How do I collect the sample?

Where should I sample?

The sample should be taken as close to the well head as possible. It  should be collected before treatment, before the distribution system and before pressure  tanks. If you take the sample from the tap, let the water run for a few minutes (about 3)  until the temperature is stable. Before collecting the water, be sure to take off any  filters, screens, aerators and vacuum breaker from the tap. Remember not to touch the  inside of the sample container.

When should I sample?

To assure accurate results, take your sample to the lab as soon as  possible after collecting it.

How long will it take to receive the test results?

The standard turn around time is 14 days, but it may take longer  depending on the number of samples there are to process. Please contact the lab for more  information on this subject.

For more information:

If you have any additional questions, contact Whatcom County Health Department at (360) 676-6724.

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