Private well owners, public water suppliers, cities, counties, and anyone else interested in having their water tested for bacteria should stop by the Fillmore SWCD office in Preston and pick up a test kit. Fillmore SWCD is certified by the Minnesota Department of Health to test for E. coli in wastewater, sewage sludge, and surface waters (e.g. streams, rivers, springs), and E. coli and Total Coliform in drinking water.
Bacteria have the ability to cause severe illness, and any water containing bacteria should not be consumed. Two primary sources of bacteria include human waste (i.e. failing septic systems) and animal waste (i.e. surface water runoff from feedlots and manure applied fields). Symptoms of waterborne diseases may include gastrointestinal illnesses such as severe diarrhea, nausea, and possibly jaundice as well as associated headaches and fatigue (MDH – www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/water/factsheet/com/coliform.html). If you are a private well owner, it is recommended to have your drinking water tested annually for bacteria.
Sample bottles are available at the Fillmore County Zoning Office and the Fillmore SWCD Office (both located in Preston). Instructions included with each bottle enable you to collect your own sample from home. All samples must be returned to the Fillmore SWCD Office within 24 hours of sampling! Samples need to be analyzed within 24 hours of collection to meet standards and ensure accuracy. Samples that arrive after 24 hours has expired will not be analyzed. Samples should be transported on ice, and kept in the refrigerator prior to transport. Sample pick-ups may be arranged depending on location and availability of staff. Pick-ups will need to be scheduled in advance. The price for 1 bacteria test is $50.00, with a reduced rate of $20.00 if there are any pregnant women or children under the age of one in the home. Test results will be mailed and/or e-mailed within 1-2 days of analysis. If you have any questions regarding bacteria testing or would like to learn more, contact the Fillmore SWCD Office at (507) 765-3878, ext. 3.