Marshall County Health Department Water Testing

The Western Kentucky Regional Laboratory (WKRL) is a department of the Marshall County Health Department. WKRL is a public health environmental laboratory dealing primarily with milk and water analysis. WKRL is unique in that it is the only regional laboratory of its kind in the Commonwealth.

It is estimated that approximately 20% of Marshall County residents receive their drinking water from private, domestic water wells. The water quality in private wells, and cisterns, is not regulated by the state of Kentucky or the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Individuals using private wells for drinking water must take precautions to ensure the safety and maintenance of their drinking water sources.

Water samples are analyzed for the presence of total coliform and E. coli bacterium. Coliforms are groups of organisms that are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and are used as an indicator organism because it is widely distributed in the environment and survives longer in water than most other bacteria. The presence of the coliform group in a water sample does not necessarily indicate fecal contamination; however, the presence of E. coli does indicate fecal pollution. If contamination is present, county environmentalists can recommend appropriate well disinfection techniques. The laboratory is also qualified to perform bacteriological testing on public water samples should the need arise.

Under Kentucky law, all domestic water wells must be installed by a certified well driller. However, once the driller turns the well over to the owner, then the maintenance of the well is the owner’s responsibility. Many well owners do not realize the Kentucky Division of Water recommends routine well maintenance and disinfection to identify potential concerns with the well to help prolong the useful life of the well. Briefly, some of these recommendations include

  • Visual assessment of the well and surrounding area
    • to ensure debris is not near the wellhead
    • to make sure the ground around the well is graded so that all surface water is directed away from the well casing
    • to identify any visible damage to the well casing
  • Well Disinfection also called shock chlorination, ‘is a technique that helps keep water from properly constructed wells, a safe and dependable source of drinking water. It also helps reduce nuisance problems such as staining or odors.’ This is an inexpensive procedure that most well owners can perform themselves by using chlorine bleach.
  • Routine Water Testing: Having your well tested routinely for the presence of coliform bacteria is recommended to gauge the bacterial quality of the water in your well. Testing, along with disinfection, can help identify conditions with the well that could cause diminished water quality.

More information about private water sources can be found at here:

If you are interested in having a bacterial analysis of your private well water, please visit the Marshall County Health Department at 267 Slickback Road in Benton.  The cost for a private water sample is $50.00.

If you have any questions about the scope or capability of testing at WKRL, please contact Wendy or call 270-252-2702.

Page last reviewed 12-12-2023