If your drinking water comes from a private well on Cape Cod, you might consider getting it tested regularly. The sandy soils and contiguous aquifer make drinking water wells particularly vulnerable to contamination from activity on the land surface (such as chemical spills and pesticide application) and subsurface (such as onsite septic systems and underground fuel storage tanks). The only way to know if your water is safe to drink is to have it tested regularly by a certified laboratory.

Routine Well Analysis Options and Pricing


Coliform BacteriaNitrateIronCopperManganeseSodiumpHConductanceVOCs
Routine Well Analysis: $55.00XX XXXXXX
Real Estate Package: $140.00XXXXXXXXX

Frequently Asked Questions

The Groundwater Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing a drinking water well annually for selected parameters. The Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment recommends annual testing for (at minimum) coliform bacteria, pH, specific conductance, sodium and nitrates. More comprehensive testing for copper, iron, manganese, total dissolved solids, lead and a suite of volatile organic compounds should be done every three years. Depending on potential sources of contamination in your area, we might recommend testing for other parameters. If you would like to discuss sampling you can call the Water Quality Laboratory at 508-375-6605.

Unfortunately, many contaminants are odorless and tasteless, but some obvious indicators of a problem are provided. These are adapted from the Environmental Protection Agency website. If you suspect a problem with your well, you can contact our laboratory and we will make every effort to assist you.


Generally every laboratory report will indicate the result along with the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).  This is the maximum concentration of the contaminant that is considered safe to drink.  A list of contaminants with their MCLs can be found at MASS.gov: Drinking Water Standards and Guidelines.

We also encourage you to read the following document from the Water Systems Council:

Understanding Well Water Testing Results

The Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Laboratory is certified for analysis of a wide range of contaminants.  If you are interested in analyzing your well water for a compound not listed, please feel free to call us and we can attempt to arrange testing by another certified laboratory.

Instructional Video: How to Take a Routine Water Sample

Condition or Nearby ActivityWhat to test for
Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored Color, detergents
Stained plumbing fixtures, laundryIron, copper, manganese
Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium
Recurring gastro-intestinal illness Coliform bacteria
Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich Radon
Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks Volatile organic compounds
Objectionable taste or smell Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals
Nearby areas of intensive agriculture Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria
Household plumbing contains lead pH, lead, copper
Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station, or dry-cleaning operation nearby Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals
Corrosion of pipes, plumbing Corrosion, pH, lead

Routine and Real Estate Pricing

Analysis10 Days Standard5 Days (+25%)4 Days (+50%)3 Days (+60%)2 Days (+75%)*1 Day (+100%)
Routine Well Analysis$55.00$68.75$82.50$88.00$96.25$110.00
Real Estate Package$140.00$175.00$210.00$224.00$245.00$280.00

Normal Hours of Operation

The lab is open 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday

Samples are only accepted according to the following schedule:

Monday through Thursday,  8:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Friday, 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM *Hours will vary to accommodate government holidays.

If you are submitting pool samples: 

  • Pool samples are only accepted between the hours of 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
  • Pseudomonas expedited turnaround time (rush order) is limited to 4-day and 5-day only.