Testing Home Drinking Water

Public water supplies on the reservation must meet the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards. However, most Leech Lake Reservation residents rely on private wells for drinking water, and they are responsible for testing their own water supplies to ensure the water is safe to drink. When a new well is put into service, well contractors are required to have a water sample tested for bacteria, nitrate, and arsenic. After that the homeowner is responsible for periodic
well testing.

What to Test for?

Total coliform bacteria are used as indicators that the well water has been contaminated by surface or shallow groundwater containing wastewater. Coliform bacteria are found in the waste of warmblooded animals (humans, livestock, pets, and wildlife). Coliform bacteria don’t usually cause disease themselves, but if they are detected in the water, disease-causing organisms from human or animal waste may also be present.

Nitrate is also used as an indicator that contaminated water is reaching your well. Nitrate comes from fertilizer and human or animal waste. Nitrate in drinking water is a serious health risk for infants under six months of age, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women in their third trimester because it can affect the ability of blood to carry oxygen.

Recent research has demonstrated that naturally occurring arsenic is more widespread in Minnesota groundwater than previously recognized. About 15% of private wells in the state exceed the safe drinking water standard. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that private wells be tested for arsenic at least once.

In addition to regularly scheduled water testing, additional testing is recommended if there is a change in the taste, odor or color of the water, or if family or visitors frequently get ill when drinking the water. Symptoms might include upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea. If you are expecting a new baby or have children under six months of age frequently visiting your home have the water supply tested.

Keep Your Records

A safe water supply is also important to your property value. Keep the results from regular water tests with your other homeowner records to demonstrate that you have a safe water supply.

Get a Water Test Kit- Beltrami County $35 Nitrate and Coliform Test Kit 218-333-4158

Beltrami County Environmental Services Administration Building
701 Minnesota Avenue NW, Ste. 113
Bemidji, MN 56601

Community Drinking Water Supplies

The Leech Lake Reservation is responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act and safe-guarding the quality of drinking water on the Reservation. This includes the responsibility of regulating 14 public water supply systems Reservation-wide.

These systems include Tract 33, Cass Lake West Side Acres, Plantation, Bena, Inger, Ball Club, Oak Point, Old Agency, Northern Lights Casino, Palace Casino, Palace Hotel, and the Bug-o-Nay-Ge-Shig School.

Any time a drinking water standard is violated, the affected community water system must take corrective actions that include notifying its residents of the violation. In addition to this notification, all community water systems issue an annual Water Quality Report (sometimes referred to as a Consumer Confidence Report) that lists the source of the system’s drinking water as well as a list of all regulated contaminants that were detected, even in trace amounts well below the legal standard, during the previous calendar year.

To get a copy of last year’s Consumer Confidence Report for a particular community water supply, contact Leech Lake Health Division’s Environmental specialist.

If you have questions about your well water, contact the Leech Lake Health Division at 218-335-4500 and ask to speak with the environmental health specialist.

University of Minnesota Extension Credit

Contact Us

(218) 335-7400 DRM

Name Title Phone
Brown, Levi Environmental Director 335-7417
Harper, Jeff Water Resources Program Manager 335-7415