Results of the water testing in Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor are in, and groundwater specialist Kevin Masarik said the area’s wells were right in line with the rest of the county and state. Overall, he said our water looked good.
“When it comes to some of the traditional land use indicators like nitrate, the results were pretty encouraging,” Masarik said. “We didn’t find a lot of ‘elevated’ or ‘high,’ what we consider unsafe, nitrate levels in the wells. The bacteria is the most important test for people to do routinely in a private well, and I’d say that’s even more critical in Door County because of the geology.”
Door County’s karst geography, with a thin layer of soil over rock, means water doesn’t get a lot of filtration before it gets into groundwater aquifers or runs into streams and lakes.
The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point has been working with municipalities around the state to encourage residents to get their wells tested for contaminants such as nitrate, lead and e.coli bacteria. Liberty Grove, Gibraltar and Egg Harbor have participated so far.
But homeowners don’t have to wait for the university to make sure their well water is safe, and Masarik said homeowners who have had their wells tested should do routine bacteria tests to make sure nothing changes.
“Depending on the time of year there’s different levels of concern for when you’d expect the water to be safe or unsafe, especially in an area like Door County where you have the shallow bedrock or the shallow soils with the really fractured bedrock,” he said.
The springtime is when homeowners should be the most concerned, he said, since it’s the time of year when snow melts and surface water recharges the groundwater. The county’s seasonal tourism economy might affect groundwater safety, too.
“If you get a lot more people there, a lot more people using septic systems, flushing toilets, taking showers, there might be a greater opportunity for some of those things to enter the water supply,” Masarik said.
Ephraim Wastewater Treatment Plant is the only DNR-certified testing lab in Door County. For more information on getting water samples tested, contact the lab at 920.854.4991. Southern Door residents may find it more convenient to use the lab in Luxemburg, Analytichem Laboratory Services, 920.866.3944.
Getting private wells tested is up to homeowners, and Masarik said it’s an important part of keeping homes safe.
“A lot of people that move to an area that aren’t from there or haven’t lived in rural areas before, if you live in a city there’s a municipal water utility in charge of providing the water, testing it, making sure it’s safe to drink,” Masarik said. “Private wells aren’t bound by those same standards. It’s really up to the homeowner to take the initiative to understand what is the quality of their water and if there is anything wrong with it, it’s up to them to figure out what they want to do – do they want to continue drinking it without treatment? Do they want to treat it in some capacity? All those decisions are made by the homeowner. They almost have to become their own water utility manager.”