kitchen faucet with water runningPrivate Water and Lead Paint Testing is available through our Environmental Health Lab. Please call (608) 243-0357 or e-mail for general water testing questions and to order a water testing kit.

  • Water testing kits must be ordered in advance for pick up at the City-County Building, or they can be mailed to you for a $5 shipping and handling fee. 
  • Water samples must be returned in person at the City-County Building.

Our Laboratory is certified by the State to test drinking water for bacteria, metals, nutrients, and other chemicals. We offer water testing for individuals (homeowners/renters) and public water utilities.

When to Test Your Water

Recommendations for testing vary depending on;

  • the source of your water (private well or municipal water),
  • age of your home, and
  • who lives in your household.  

Private Well Owners

It is recommended that private well owners test annually for bacteria and nitrate/nitrite. Testing is recommended sooner if there has been flooding in the area or if any changes in taste, odor, or appearance of the water are noticed. 

  • It is very important to test for nitrate in households with pregnant people, infants, and young children. Nitrate can reduce the blood's ability to carry oxygen. In infants it can cause a serious condition called "blue baby syndrome."
  • The age and type of plumbing may indicate a need for additional testing to check for lead and other metals. While lead is less of an issue in private wells, it can be found in some pumps or valves used in private wells.
  • Tests for Drinking Water from Private Wells WI Dept. of Natural Resources

Municipal Water Customers

If you pay a water bill, you have water that comes from a municipal water utility. The water utility tests the water regularly and makes sure that you have good drinking water.

  • You may want to test for water quality problems that may come from your plumbing, like lead, copper, manganese or bacterial contamination.
  • Test drinking water for lead if you know there is lead piping or solder where you live, or in the system that brings water to where you live. Galvanized steel pipes can also add lead to the water. We can help figure out if you have lead pipes. Call our office at (608) 242-6515. This website can also help you find out. Lead levels may vary widely throughout the home so one good test may not be the final answer. 
  • If your water is cloudy or discolored, it may be due to flushing of water mains which is part of normal cleaning and maintenance. The cloudiness and discoloration should clear up after running the water for a few minutes. It does not usually mean testing is needed. If the water does not become clear, call your local water utility.

Other Water Testing

We test more than just drinking water. We can test area lakes, streams, and rivers for indicators of environmental conditions.

Testing Process

  1. Decide which tests

    Different tests and testing packages require different test kits. If you already know what tests you want to order, go to step 2. If you need help figuring out what tests or packages to order, email or call us at (608) 243-0357 to discuss the types of tests you need based on your situation and their cost. 

  2. Get a Test Kit

    • All testing requires the use of a sample test kit.
    • Depending on what type of testing you want, you might need multiple sample test kits.
    • Test kits can be picked up at our office or mailed to you for a $5 fee. To order a test kit, please email or call (608) 243-0357.
    Testing Kit Pick Up and Drop Off Locations
    • Pick-up times are 8:00AM - 2:00PM Monday through Friday.
    • Hours vary around holidays; before sampling, call (608) 243-0357.
    • Drop off times are 8:00AM - 2:00PM but the days depend on the testing you need. Any order that includes bacterial testing must be dropped off Monday through Wednesday only. Non-metals only on Monday through Thursday. Metals only on Monday - Friday. 

    Public Health Laboratory

    8:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday
    City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 507, Madison
    Get Directions 

  3. Collect a Water Sample

    • Review instructions that come with your test kit.
    • Instructions will vary based on the type of test. It is important to follow them to get accurate results.
    • Collect the sample just before you will be bringing it to our office.
  4. Return Sample to Us

    • Complete the information requested on the test kit bottle and form that is provided.
    • Bring payment in the form of cash or check made out to City Treasurer.
  5. Get Results!

    • You can choose to receive your results by email or mail.
    • Results are usually available in ten business days after the sample is received at our lab. Rush orders (results in 5 business days) might be available - call about availability and fee before mailing or dropping off samples.    
    • If we see a concerning test result, we will provide additional information and next steps to address the contaminant.
    • To discuss results, call our lab at (608) 243-0357.


Free Drinking Water Testing For Those who Qualify

Water testing is available for free to those with financial need if a pregnant person or a new child lives in the home. The process is different from the process above and uses a different testing kit and lab.

Please call (608) 242-6515 to find out if you qualify for free testing. You can also visit our office at 2300 S. Park St. Suite 2010.

If you do not qualify for free water testing, you must pay postage and laboratory fees by following the above process.