Hopes High to Engage Entire County in Well-Testing Program

Working in collaboration with the UW-Oshkosh Environmental Research and Innovation Center, the Door County Soil and Water and Public Health departments are hoping to get private-well test results from all 619 sections of the county. (A section is a 640-acre plot, or a square mile; they were established when the county was originally surveyed in the late 1800s.)

“This is a great opportunity for us,” Door County Conservationist Erin Hanson said in announcing the program at a recent Land Conservation Committee meeting. “Our goal is to get voluntary participation in each section of the county with at least one well sample from each section. That’s going to be a challenge.” 

She said the purpose is two-fold.

“It’s an opportunity to do some education and outreach on the importance of testing your well regularly,” she said. “Some homeowners don’t know very much about their wells. There will be educational forums and opportunities to take part in the well-testing program.”

And it will begin a long-term groundwater-monitoring program throughout the county, Hanson said.

The well testing will be for the two most common well problems: coliform (human) and E. coli (animal) bacteria and nitrate.

“One of the benefits of having Oshkosh be the study lead, they are good at collecting the information and providing a summary for us. They will be the data custodian,” Hanson said.

Recruiting participants for the well study has already begun, and Hanson said an incentive has been added through a limited amount of funding that brings the testing cost down from $45 to $20. She said well owners who sign up for the testing will be randomly selected for the discounted price.

“We’re hoping that incentive will get good participation,” she said. “By offering a discount, but still requiring the landowner to pay the $20, we’ll be more assured that homeowners will collect the sample and return it.”

Well owners are asked to sign up online at to indicate their interest or fill out a paper form at Door County Public Health by Oct 18.

Two public forums will be held to provide more information about the program and solicit volunteers to represent all areas of the county. The forum dates and locations are Nov. 4, 6-8 pm, at the Town of Gibraltar Fire Department; and Nov. 6, 6-8 pm, at Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay.

Each session will begin promptly at 6 pm with a 60-minute presentation about the goal of the study and sample-collection instructions. Participants will then receive the sampling kit and be instructed to return the kit the same week at designated drop-off locations. They will receive results within two weeks of their sample collection. Participants will also be invited to a study-results summary forum on Dec. 9 and 10.

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