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Do-It-Yourself Water Test Kits & Dip Strips

water testing

Do-it-yourself water quality test kits can be found in many local stores that target rural homeowners. A variety of test kits and dip strips are available; each designed to test for a specific water quality parameter or group of parameters. They can be relatively inexpensive, but are they a good option for people with private drinking water wells?

The quality of water from private wells is not currently regulated at the federal level or by Nebraska state government. Therefore, testing your private water supply is not required under state or federal law.

If you want to know the concentration of contaminants in your private water supply, you can voluntarily pursue water testing. A do-it-yourself test kit might be used for preliminary "screening" for a contaminant. An estimate of the concentration level might be obtained with some of the kits available. However, analysis by an approved laboratory is recommended for an accurate, reliable, and precise measurement.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services approves laboratories to conduct tests for drinking water supplies. Approval must be obtained for each specific contaminant, so a laboratory might not be approved to test for all potential drinking water contaminants.

Laboratories not approved to test for a specific contaminant may use the same equipment and procedures as approved laboratories. Such laboratories may provide accurate analysis, but there is no independent information about the laboratory's ability to obtain reliable results.

test kit bottles
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Educator
Images by Rachael Wright, UNL Extension