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Water Testing

Household Water Testing

The Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) Laboratory is certified by state regulators to test drinking water for bacteria, metals, and other chemicals. It tests water for private well owners and public water utilities. PHMDC's experienced Lab staff can talk with you about:

  • The types of tests you need based on your situation
  • What the test results mean
  • How you can make your water better for drinking

Private Well Water Testing

  • Private well owners should test their water for bacteria and nitrate/nitrite every year, or sooner if changes in taste, odor or appearance are noticed, or there is an unexplained illness.
  • Nitrate is particularly important to test for in households with pregnant women, infants, and young children.
  • Testing after flooding is recommended.
  • The age and type of plumbing may indicate a need for testing to check for lead and other metals.
  • If you have questions about what type of testing you may need, Public Health staff are able to help. Call (608) 266-4821 and ask for the Lab.


How about Municipal Water?

  • If you pay a water bill, you have water supplied through a municipal water utility. The water utility tests the water regularly and assures that you have good drinking water.
  • Municipal water customers may want to test for water quality problems that can occur from the home plumbing such as lead, copper, manganese or bacterial contamination.
  • When water is temporarily cloudy or discolored, it may be due to routine flushing of water mains necessary for normal cleaning and maintenance. The cloudiness and discoloration should clear up after a few minutes of running the water and does not necessarily indicate a need for testing. If the water does not become clear, call your local water utility.

How Do I Get My Water Tested?

Water testing is available through the Public Health Madison & Dane County Laboratory.

  • Call (608) 243-0357 to discuss your testing needs and how to get a water test kit.
  • The test kit can be picked up at our Laboratory office, our Environmental Health office, or arrangements can be made to have it mailed to you.


  • Public Health Laboratory Office:
    8 am - 4 pm, Monday through Friday
    City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 516B, Madison (Downtown)
    (If no one is available in Room 516B, please go to Room 507.)
  • Environmental Health Office:
    Call (608) 243-0357 for pick up arrangements.

Please note: Hours vary around holidays; before picking up, call (608) 243-0357.

For additional information and pricing:

For further recommendations about water testing:

For information on fee-exemptions for private well owners, visit Fee-Exempt Drinking Water Testing.

Key Contacts
Concerns: (608) 266-4821

Testing Arrangements: (608) 243-0357
Unsafe Drinking Water