Collecting a Water Sample

How to Take a Water Sample

View this Youtube video created by University of Wisconsin Stevens Point to see how to properly take a water sample at home.

Here are the steps for choosing the right location for collecting a water sample.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin

Do you have a water treatment system?


  • Water softener (this will influence the hardness test)
  • Reverse Osmosis System (this will influence the nitrate test)
  • Sediment filter (this typically isn't a concern)
  • No - skip to Selecting a Faucet

Can you bypass your water treatment and collect a "raw"  sample?

  • Yes - skip to Selecting a Faucet
  • No - this is fine. Continue to collect a sample, but some analysis will reflect the "treated" water conditions. Note this on your lab paperwork.

Selecting a Faucet

In order to reduce your chances for a false bacteria result, the following should be considered.

1st Choice in Order of Importance

  • Non-swivel metal faucet
  • Non-swivel plastic faucet
  • Plastic swivel faucet
  • Swivel metal faucet      

*Collection from a garden hose is not recommended.

Possible Sources

  • Bathroom Faucet
  • Kitchen Faucet
  • Outside Faucet
  • Pressure Tank
  • Other

When Collecting a Sample

  • Sanitize the faucet head as outlined in the lab form. An alternative to heat consider vinegar, alcohol, bleach or similar bacteria killing products.
  • Establish a steady water flow, do not adjust this flow rate and do not move the faucet head (if swivel) until after the sample is collected
  • Do not touch or contaminate the rim of the sample bottle or the underside of the sample cap. Run the water for 5 minutes, and have the sample bottle ready for collection by holding the bottle in one hand and the cap in the other hand. Fill the sample bottle with water and tighten the cap securely back onto the sample bottle.

Well Construction Report

Private well owners can access their well construction reports on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.