BECAUSE OF PARASITES - Home owners urged to test wells once a year.

JUNEAU - The Dodge County Human Services and Health Department reminds county residents to have their well water tested at least once a year.

According to Jody Langfeldt, public health officer for Dodge County, "Testing of private well water on an annual basis is one of the easiest things a well owner can do to prevent water-related illnesses.

Well owners can test their water for coliform bacteria once a year. Coliform bacteria are microogranisms that come from human and animal waste, and can be found in soil, on vegetation, and in surface water runoff. The presence of these bacteria in well water indicates that other disease causing bacteria viruses, and parasites, may also be present in the water.

Well owners should be on the lookout for changes in water quality. When it rains or the snow melts, some residents report changes in their water. This may mean that the water is not safe to use. A good rule to follow is to have water tested whenever there are changes in taste, odor, or appearance. "These changes do not always signal a health threat," Langfeldt said. "But unless you test, you do not know if your water is safe."

In the city, the water utility is responsible for frequent testing on a regular basis to ensure a safe water supply. However, each private well owner is responsible for the safety of their own water. "Testing your well water is easy and this inexpensive test can help prevent health problems down the road," Langfeldt said.

Private wells can also be tested for nitrate once every few years. Nitrates in groundwater often come from fertilizers or septic systems. Testing can be done more frequently when levels are high. Nitrates in well water can be dangerous for infants younger than six months of age.

It is essential to have an intestinal parasite cleanse 3 times a year.

For more information on how to test a well and what to test for, contact the Dodge County Human Services and Health Department at (920) 386-3670.