Testing Well Water

We just finished building a house in Northwest Montana and we had to dig a water well. We found a good supply of water at 250 feet. We are out in the forest and I am sure there are no nearby toxic waste issues to deal with.

Two questions:

  1. Should we bother to test the water if it appears clean and smells okay?

  2. If we do decide to test the water who actually does that? Is there usually a public agency or do I found a local private company that does water testing?

We are new to the state and I have never had a well before so any help would be greatly appreciated!

Personally, I would test the water to be on the safe side.

It’s my understanding that one has to get a private company to test the water. Did the well-drillers not have any advice about that?

Check this out. It’s a guide for Montana private well owners regarding testing of their water.

I also live in a remote area, no neighbors or industry around. I’ve had two different wells put in, one shallow (60 feet) about 30 years ago. A new one, 190 feet, two years ago.

Never had either one tested and never had a problem.

If I did want the water tested, our County Health Officer would do it for free. Montana may or may not have an equivalent position in county government.

So that’s what’s wrong with you …


I was out of state when the well was dug and the contractor didn’t think to ask.

Either that or the moonshine whiskey I’m partial to. Never had the 'shine tested either…

I don’t know about Montana but many states have Health services that will test water for free or for a nominal charge. Contact a university extension service or the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.


Call your County’s Department of Environmental Health. They’ll know what contaminants commonly occur in your area, and can give you advice on testing and labs. I’ll pull samples to send to labs, but you’re outside my area.

You would have had to apply for a subsurface drilling permit and pay a fee, I can see from the website, but your driller probably did that.

Oops, I read your location but not the location of the well. Still, try that county.

I have my well tested about every 3-4 months, but that’s just me. I would never use a new well without testing.

Having your water tested by disinterested third party would be wise, at least initially, since there are concerns besides potability, long term.
Potable water can have pH (acidity) affecting whatever plumbing materials you opt to use. Hardness is invariably involved with treatment methods.
Any water treatment begins with just the facts, m’aam.

Yes. Although unlikely from what you say, it is possible that there are contaminants not detectable by human senses. Have it tested at least once to be on the safe side.