Everyone should have their water tested for bacteria, nitrate, and lead when they move to a house with a private well, and at least every few years after that. Although other contaminants have the potential to contaminate your ground water as well, bacteria, nitrate, and lead are the most common and can be tested for a reasonable cost. Testing for those three ranges from a few dollars up to $30 or so (each parameter) in some labs, while testing for pesticides is likely to cost more.
If you are on a public water system ("city water"), the water system is required to test the water regularly. Unless you have a reason to suspect contamination, or live in an older home and suspect lead from your house’s piping may be contaminating the water, you should not need to test the water yourself.
The Indiana State
of Health Laboratory (ISDH) will test private well water samples
for $10 (+$6.50 shipping and handling) for the following parameters:
To have your water tested, you must used the "Water Test Kit Order Form" which is the last form listed at t t http://www.in.gov/isdh/24550.htm (direct link to the form (Microsoft Word) is https://forms.in.gov/Download.aspx?id=74). Fill out the bottom table of the form, called "Unregulated/Unmonitored" (for your home). Enclose the fee and mail the address included. You will receive the test kit, which consists of sterile bottles, a mailer, and instructions. Call 317-921-5874 for more information.
To find Indiana laboratories
that test for other contaminants, the most up-to-date source of
information is maintained by the Indiana State Department of Health.
At this web site, select "certified chemistry laboratories" to find
labs that test for parameters such as copper, lead, mercury, nitrate,
fluoride, pesticides and other synthetic organic chemicals, or volatile
organic chemicals. Select "certified microbiology labs" to find labs
that test for E. coli or other bacteria. We
have collaborated in the past with Heidelberg
College Water Quality Labs to test private wells in Indiana for
pesticides, metals, nitrates, and other contaminants. You may wish to
contact them about their testing program and prices.
"Do-it-yourself" water test kits are also available at stores. We do not have additional information on the reliability of these tests beyond what is provided by the manufacturer. Since they are very low-cost, they may serve well as a "screening test". The most reliable are likely to be the kits where you pay a fixed price ($10 to $15) for a kit that includes testing at a certified laboratory.
additional information, contact Jane
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Purdue University