Illinois water test instructions

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Many well owners assume their water is safe, but a course teaches what contaminants might be present in the water, how to get it tested and what to do if the tests come back positive.

“We encourage homeowners to be informed,” said Katie Buckley, outreach specialist for the groundwater section of the Illinois State Water Survey.

She lets private well owners know about a 10-week Private Well Class. In addition to the course, the organization has created informative videos and they train the trainers, including others in environmental health, sanitation, Extension and real estate agents, Buckley said.

The first year for the Private Well Class, 500 people participated. Now between 1,000 and 1,500 take the class in a year, said Steve Wilson, a groundwater hydrologist who spearheaded the program, now used across the nation.

There is always new information to share. The latest is research being done on the level of manganese in water and its possible effect on child development, Wilson said.

He said it is important to get testing done once a year by a certified lab, preferably in the same state.

There are simple things people can do around the farm to help keep their well water safe.

“Protect that well head,” said Thomas Anderson, environmental health director at the McLean County Health Department. “Be aware if it is near an above-ground fuel tank or a chicken coop.”

Most wells today are well-constructed with a good seal, but older ones may not be. Owners are responsible for care of abandoned wells on the property too. Such wells could contaminate nearby water.

“Groundwater is the responsibility of everyone,” Anderson said.

For more information about the class, visit wellclass.org or call 1-866-522-2681.

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Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.