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Clark County Health Department Offering Free and Reduced Cost Well Water Test Kits
Monday, April 15th, 2019 -- 1:34 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director


-The Clark County Health Department was awarded one of eight grants in Wisconsin from the Department of Health Services’ Environmental Health Tracking Program to improve environmental public health in Clark County by providing residents with free and reduced cost well water test kits.

More specifically, residents can obtain a free Nitrate Test Kit, or they can purchase a more comprehensive Homeowners Test Kit at a reduced cost of $17.00 (normally $52.00). The Homeowners Kit tests for nitrates, bacteria and chloride, as well as other indicators of water quality such as pH, hardness and corrosivity. The funding is being used to share in the cost of the well water testing for residents so they can better understand the quality of their drinking water. “Well over half of the residents in Clark County get their drinking water from private wells. However, most of these residents have very little information about what is in their water,” said Kevin M. Smith, Health Department Environmental Health Specialist. Municipal water systems test the quality of their water several times a year, yet many residents with private wells may never. The goal of the project is to increase the number of people who test their private well by reducing barriers so that all of our residents can have safe drinking water for themselves and their families.

The Clark County Health Department will also connect residents with resources to help eliminate contaminants from their private wells, if they are present, and repair is desired. Other partners in the project include the Clark County Land Conservation Department, Clark County Planning and Zoning, and Clark County UW-Extension. Those residents who have a well in need of repair will be provided with recommendations to fix the problem and, as needed, information regarding financial assistance resources. These solutions could be short term, such as installing effective filtration units, or long term such as abandoning high-risk wells, drilling new ones and even inspecting private onsite wastewater treatment systems depending on the levels of contamination. Currently, Clark County ranks 8th highest among 72 counties in Wisconsin for average nitrate concentrations in public drinking water systems, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Recent estimates suggest that 1 in 5 private wells tested in Clark County exceed the Public Health Standard of 10 mg/L, for nitrates. Water concentrations that contain 10 mg/L of nitrates, or more, are considered unsafe for pregnant women and children under six months old. Some health effects have been linked to adults with long term exposure to these levels. There are a number of reasons why nitrates may be high, to include leaking or non-conforming private onsite wastewater treatment systems, land use and surface activity such as fertilizers, well construction, and even ground soil composition.

Though there are many reasons, the multi-agency collaboration is going to make identification of these sources much more possible. The project will run through July 31st. Residents who want a test kit should call the Health Department at 715-743-5105 to place their request. Pick up and drop off locations area available to help cover the cost of shipping. For more information about the Clark County Health Department, visit http://www.co.clark.wi.us/healthdepartment.

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