Well Water Testing – Montana Well Educated Program

Montana State University Extension Water Quality

The Well Educated Program began in 1989 with the mission of making well testing affordable for private well owners, in addition to gathering water quality data that can aid in the decision making process for water resource managers.  Since 1989 the Well Educated Program has been offered to thousands of well owners, along with the resources to help interpret the water quality results. Through this program Montana State University Extension has been able to provide an opportunity for well owners to learn how to protect drinking water as a resource.

Why test my water?
When you are a private well owner your water is not monitored by the city, state, government, or any municipal agencies.  You are responsible for monitoring the quality of your drinking water, and ensuring its safety.  It is best to sample routinely, even when there are no apparent changes, as some issues do not present any visible signs or smells.

When should I get my water tested and how often?
Private well owners should test their water for bacteria and nitrate annually.  In addition, drinking water should be tested if:

  • you notice a change in your water quality
  • people drinking the water suffer from an illness which may be waterborne
  • there is a flood or large storm that may have carried contaminants into your well
  • maintenance is done on the well infrastructure
  • a pregnant woman, a woman anticipating pregnancy, or an infant under the age of six months becomes a water user

The best time to test for bacteria is after spring runoff, or if there is any noticeable change in water taste, color, or smell.  However, testing annually at a time that’s convenient for you is most important.

Review the Well Educated Parameter Choice Guide and Glossary for more information.

To pick up a test kit, or for assistance interpreting your results, contact:

Gallatin Local Water Quality District
(406) 582-3168
215 W. Mendenhall Street, Suite 300
Bozeman, MT

Kits are also available at:

Gallatin Conservation District
(406) 282-4350
120 South 5th Street, Suites B102-B104
Manhattan, MT 59741

Here is a video from Montana State University Water Quality Extension on sampling your well water:

See the Water Quality Interpretation Tool for additional assistance interpreting your test results.

Montana State University Extension Water Quality- Well Educated Program
(406) 994-7381