Well sampling in the East Metro Area

Since 2003, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) have sampled more than 2,200 private residential wells and 100 non-community public (i.e. small businesses, churches, schools) wells in the east metro area for perfluorochemicals (PFCs). The areas where sampling has taken place include:

  • Afton
  • Lake Elmo
  • Newport
  • St. Paul Park
  • Cottage Grove
  • Lakeland
  • Oakdale
  • West Lakeland Township
  • Denmark Township
  • Maplewood
  • Southeast St. Paul
  • Woodbury
  • Grey Cloud Island Township
     

Other areas where sampling has taken place include parts of northern Dakota County, immediately adjacent to the Mississippi River.

Between now and the end of June 2019, the MPCA and MDH expect to sample approximately 1,100 more private wells. Sampling of these wells is prioritized on these factors:

  • Wells not previously sampled, but in areas where current sampling indicates groundwater exceeds MDH levels of health concern for PFCs.
  • Wells where PFCs were detected in a previous sample and future monitoring is needed.
  • Wells already on regular monitoring schedules near the PFC waste disposal sites and in areas with changing PFC concentrations.

Link to interactive map showing where private well water testing is planned, or where it has already taken place.Use the interactive map on this webpage to see areas where the MPCA and MDH have sampled private wells. It also includes areas where sampling is planned for the summer of 2018.

Wells tested and identified with a green symbol showed no or low levels of PFCs. Wells tested and marked with a pink symbol showed elevated levels of PFCs the MDH issued the well owner a well water advisory.

If your property is within the priority sampling area outlined by the dashed line on the map, and you have a private drinking water well, you can request to have your water tested by filling out this online form.

The MPCA and MDH are working through the list of sampling requests as we are able based on current resources. We are experiencing a high volume of requests at this time and will address requests as soon as we are able. 

If your property is outside the priority sampling area, you can contact a private lab and pay to have your water tested. Please note that MPCA and MDH will be glad to help you interpret your results, but no decisions regarding drinking water advisories or a provision of alternate drinking water (such as bottled water, treatment, or connection to city water) will be based on privately collected water samples. 

If your sample indicates levels of PFCs that could be of possible health concern, the state will re-sample your water to confirm the results before taking any actions.

Very few private laboratories will accept samples to test for PFCs from individual homeowners. To locate a lab that does, you can use the MDH’s accredited laboratory search feature and follow these steps:

  • Select the “Customized Searches” tab.
  • Use the drop-down menu for “Analyte” [in the section labeled “All Other Programs and Test Parameters”] and select “Perfluorobutyric acid (pfba).”
  • Click the box next to “Accepts samples from private home owners.”
  • Click the “Search” box.
  • Results will be displayed in the table at the bottom of the page.

You will need to contact the laboratory directly to get information on prices and the list of PFCs they test for. Most labs test for a list of 12-14 PFCs, many of which are not typically detected in the east metro area. Be sure the lab you select tests for the following seven PFCs typically found in the east metro area. Note that depending on the lab, these chemicals may be referred to by any of the names listed below:

  • PFBA — perfluorobutyric acid, perfluorobutanoic acid, perfluorobutanoate, or perfluorobutyrate
  • PFBS — perfluorobutane sulfonate or perfluorobutane sulfonic acid
  • PFPeA — perfluoropentanoic acid or perfluoropentanoate
  • PFHxA — perfluorohexanoic acid or perfluorohexanoate
  • PFHxS — perfluorohexane sulfonate or perfluorohexane sulfonic acid
  • PFOA — perfluorooctanoic acid or perfluorooctanoate
  • PFOS — perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid

Another option is to contact a local environmental consulting firm and have them collect a sample as they may be able to use labs not available to individual homeowners. You will still want to confirm that the list they test for includes the seven PFCs listed above.  

If you choose to test your water independently and have questions about the results, you can contact the MDH at health.hazard@state.mn.us for help.

How the state decides where to monitor

Private wells are selected for sampling and monitoring mainly based on the following criteria:

  • How close they are to known PFC sources,
  • Understanding of the geology and how groundwater is moving, and
  • Previous sampling results.

Well sampling is the most intensive — meaning all or most of the wells in that area are sampled frequently — in areas where:

  • PFC concentrations are the highest,
  • The geology is complicated by subsurface features,
  • PFC distribution patterns are unpredictable or concentrations are increasing over time.