In response to overwhelming interest in water test kits, Otter Tail County has responded. Beginning Sept. 8, 2020, the Land and Resource Management Department will make available water test kits to the public. The water test kits test private drinking wells for coliform bacteria, arsenic, nitrate nitrogen and lead. The test results and a report are returned to the resident via RMB Environmental Laboratories of Detroit Lakes.
“We listened to our residents. Because the water test kits that we received from the U of M homeowner septic class were such a hit, in addition to the feedback we received on social media regarding water test kits, we realized that there was great public interest in the county providing this service,” stated Chris LeClair, Otter Tail County Land and Resource Management director. “We heard our residents and acted accordingly.”
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reminds residents that “as a private well owner, you are responsible for regularly testing the water you use for cooking and drinking to make sure it is safe.” MDH recommends that you test for coliform bacteria, nitrate, arsenic, lead and manganese (manganese if a baby will drink the water). Testing for all the contaminants is especially important if babies or young children drink the water.
The county is a test kit pick-up and drop-off location only. Please return the kit to the same location where you picked up the kit. Completed kits will be picked up by a courier and sent to the lab. Courier pick up dates are Monday-Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Please note, the coliform bacteria test is time sensitive and must be collected on the same day that it is delivered to the lab. Any sample dropped off after 9:45 a.m. will be rejected by the laboratory for quality control purposes. Water test kits will not be accepted after 9:45 a.m. or on Fridays.
There is a fee for the testing service and the fees are paid directly to the lab. Checks must be made out to RMB Labs. The coliform bacteria and nitrate nitrogen tests are combined in one sample for $20; for homes built before 1972 a lead test ($20) is recommended; the arsenic test is $20 or $60 for all four tests. The results and report will be sent directly to the resident who assumes responsibility for any recommended mitigation.
Please follow the collection instructions provided with the kits. To collect your sample MDH recommends you test water from a faucet that you use for cooking and drinking and that if you treat your water, test the water after it goes through treatment.