Inver Grove Heights residents with wells told to buy expensive kits if they want radium tests

Dakota County is telling homeowners with private wells in Inver Grove Heights they will need to buy a pricey test kit if they want to check their own water for radium after the city announced elevated levels of the radioactive metal in the public water supply.

This week, the city added a new link to its water notice page on the radium detection. The link advertised free water test kits for private well owners that are available for the next month. The only caveat: The tests don't actually detect radium.

The tests are part of an ongoing initiative unrelated to the radium detection. In a letter, the county says, since radium is "not a common contaminant" the tests don't check for it.

But if you are concerned about radium, the city says you can order a test kit from the Wisconsin State Laboratory for $278 plus shipping. Those tests require residents to ship a gallon of water and the water needs to get shipped to the lab within five days, likely requiring expedited shipping.

The concern for radium impacts residents with private wells that draw from the Jordan aquifer – the same aquifer from which the city pulls its water.

That said, the county says a groundwater check in 2020 found no well water in Inver Grove Heights was close to approaching the recommended limit for radium. The county also points out the study found a "correlation" between well depth and radium, with deeper wells having higher radium levels. The county says if your well is shallower than 350 to 450 feet or pulling from a different aquifer, there may be less radium entering your well.

Other good news: If you have water softening, the county says that is an effective treatment to remove radium. The county writes that both water softening and reverse osmosis filtration are "evidence-based treatments for radium" along with removing other possible contaminants from your water.

If you are interested in the free water tests (without radium testing), you can click here for more information.