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Contact Us

University of Illinois Extension serving Livingston, McLean and Woodford Counties

McLean County
1615 Commerce Parkway
Bloomington, IL 61704
Phone: 309-663-8306
FAX: 309-663-8270
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed 11:30-12:30 pm)

Livingston County
1412 S Locust
Pontiac, IL 61764
Phone: 815-842-1776
FAX: 815-842-6547
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed 12 - 1pm)

McLean County
UNITY Community Center
632 Orlando Avenue
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-862-4041
FAX: 309-663-8270
Hours: Monday - Friday 11am to 7:00 pm

Woodford County
109 East Eureka Avenue
Eureka, IL 61530
Phone: 309-467-3789
FAX: 309-467-6034
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed 12 - 1pm)

Commercial Agriculture

Commercial Agriculture


When to Test Your Drinking Water

Spring is the ideal time for homeowners with private wells to be testing their drinking water to ensure it is still safe to drink. Heavy rainfall and even flooding may result in a greater potential for pollutants to contaminate your drinking water due to leaching of harmful materials into the soil, a deteriorating well casing, and surface water flow into a dug well system reports Bob Frazee, University of Illinois Natural Resources Educator.

If you have a private water supply, you are responsible for the quality of water that your family drinks. That's why it is important to test your private water supply at least once a year, and more often if problems arise. If you get water from a public or municipal supply, you have more protection, because these supplies are tested on a regular basis. Still, Frazee cautions, you may need to test your water because it is possible that corrosive water, water that erodes metal fixtures, can cause pipes in your home to leach contaminants and metals into your water supply.

In recent years, pollutants have contaminated a number of private water systems in both urban and rural areas. Some of these pollutants include nitrate from septic systems, fertilizer, livestock wastes, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and gasoline from underground storage tanks. Many people no longer take their drinking water for granted. Instead of assuming tap water is safe, many homeowners are now regularly testing their drinking water.

Contaminated water does not always look, taste, or smell differently than safe drinking water. Frazee offers the following guidelines to describe conditions in which water testing may be advisable:

Private or Public Supply: Consider testing water from a private or public supply if:

  • Water has an objectionable taste or smell.

  • Household plumbing contains lead pipes, brass fittings or lead-solder joints.

  • You are considering installing water treatment equipment.

  • You want to check the efficiency and performance of home water-treatment equipment.

  • Water leaves scaly residues and soap scum or decreases the cleaning action of soaps.

  • Pipes or plumbing show signs of corrosion.

Private Supply Only: If you have a private water supply, also consider testing if:

  • You have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness.

  • You are buying a home or wish to evaluate the safety & quality of the water supply.

  • Water stains plumbing fixtures and laundry.

  • Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored.

  • Pumps, chlorinators and other water-supply equipment wear rapidly.

  • Someone in the household is pregnant or anticipating a pregnancy.

  • The household includes infants less than 6 months old.

  • You have a new well and want to evaluate it.

  • The well does not meet construction codes.

  • You have a sand-point well, or a large-diameter dug or bored well.

  • The well is less than 50 feet deep and one of these conditions exists: (1) the soil is sandy, or (2) bedrock or sand and gravel is less than 10 feet from the surface.

  • The well is in an area where you have mixed or loaded pesticides, spilled pesticides or fuel, or have had a backsiphoning problem.

  • The well is in or close to a livestock confinement area.

  • The well is within 50 feet of a septic tank or 75 feet of a septic absorption field.

  • The well is located near an operational or abandoned gas station or fuel storage tank.

  • The well is close to a retail chemical facility, gravel pit, mining operation, landfill, junkyard, factory, dry-cleaning operation, road-salt storage site or heavily salted roadway.

According to Frazee, private well owners should test their water supplies for coliform bacteria and nitrate at least once a year. More frequent testing is recommended if any member of the household is pregnant or less than 6 months old. If you suspect pesticide contamination in your private water supply, contact your county Department of Public Health for a list of laboratories best suited to test for pesticides.

Note: For residents of McLean County, Illinios, you may obtain Water Testing Kits from The McLean County Health Department, Room 204, 200 W. Front St., Bloomington, IL, through their Environmental Health Department. Their Phone: 309-888-5482. A kit costs $20.00; this fee includes the lab fee; the purchaser pays postage to mail the kit to a lab in Springfield, which tests for bacteria and nitrates. Written results are mailed to the McLean County Health Department, who then sends a written report to the consumer/purchaser.