Domestic Water Sampling

If you live outside of a city water supply how do you know your water is safe to drink?
Download: Rules and Regulations

What do we test for?


Nitrate in water is undetectable without testing because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It may attain high levels in some ground water due to contamination by sewage, wastes or leaching on agricultural fertilizer in heavily farmed areas. Nitrate interferes with the ability of the blood to carry oxygen in infants, resulting in death in severe cases. Some researchers have found that as nitrate intake increases, leukemia and lymphoma cases also increase. Other studies have found that nitrate may be associated with increased birth defects and stomach cancers. Infants, pregnant or nursing women and elderly adults are at greatest risk of the health affects from drinking water that is contaminated with nitrates. If the nitrate level is 10 parts per million(ppm) it is considered unsafe.


If the bacteria result is 1 per 100ml or greater is considered unsafe. Bacterial contamination cannot be detected by sight, smell or taste. Coliform bacteria, which are part of our testing method may not cause disease but can be indicator of pathogenic organisms that cause diseases.

Who is eligible for testing?

Residents in Box Butte, Dawes, Sheridan and most of Sioux counties who have a private domestic water supply. Testing is FREE and appointments may be made by calling Haley Anders at the UNWNRD office.

What if there is a problem?

The UNWNRD has cost-share available on a first-come-first serve basis to defray a portion of the expense for either a treatment system or new domestic well if you drinking water tests over 10.0 ppm for nitrates or is positive for bacteria. In addition, our well decommissioning cost-share program is available to assist landowners with the cost of properly plugging unused water wells which pose a threat to ground water quality and are a safety hazard.

Well Decommissioning

What is Well Decommissioning

Abandoned wells can be a serious threat to the quality of your ground water supply. An abandoned well is one that has not been properly decommissioned. A properly decommissioned well has been filled, sealed, and plugged in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Why should I plug my abandoned well?

More than 90% of Nebraskans rely on ground water for domestic use. Abandoned wells may provide a direct link for contamination from the surface to enter ground water drinking supplies. Agricultural AND lawn care chemicals, livestock waste, and other contaminants can contaminate the water supply through an abandoned well.

Abandoned wells can also be physically hazardous. Small animals and even children can fall into wells that are not properly sealed.

Decommissioning Cost-Share Guidelines:

  • All pumps, piping and any other obstructions must be removed from the well site. The cost incurred in this removal is not eligible for cost-share.
  • The well shall be decommissioned in compliance with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Decommissioning of the well shall be completed within six months of the application approval date.
  • All plugging work must be performed by a licensed well driller or pump installer. Maximum cost-share rate is 75% of the actual cost not to exceed $500 for drilled wells or $700 for hand-dug wells.
  • Report the fill materials and quantities used to plug the well to the UNWNRD and the Nebraska Department of Water Resources.

How do I receive well decommissioning cost-share assistance?

  • Contact the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District office for an application. NO COST-SHARE WILL BE PAID WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL OF AN APPLICATION!
  • The landowner must fill out the application form and return it to the UNWNRD office for approval.
  • Approval is needed before a certified well driller plugs the well.
  • Upon application approval by the UNWNRD, the copy of the application and a verification form will be sent to the landowner. A copy and reporting form for completion by the contractor will also be included.
  • The reporting form will be completed by the contractor with information about the fill of the well. The reporting form has two sides to complete and must be notarized.
  • Cost-Share will not be paid until all completed forms (application approval, cost verification, reporting form) and a bill indicating all charges have been presented to the UNWNRD office by the landowner or well driller.

Reimbursement is made to the landowner after the claim has been reviewed.

Voluntary Integrated Management Plan

Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District (UNWNRD) has elected to develop a voluntary Integrated Management Plan (VIMP) in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) for the portion of the District that is not classified as “fully appropriated” for water uses.

Zoom video Meeting held November 12, 2020- Recorded

Stakeholder process survey-Link

Voluntary IMP Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting #1 Notes


Links & Forms


Rules and Regulations


Integrated Water Management Plan


Permit to Construct a Water Well

(308) 432-6190

(308) 432-6187

Mailing Address:
430 East Second Street
Chadron, Nebraska 69337

For specific contact information related to UNWNRD Board and Staff, please see the 'About Us' page.

To learn more about Nebraska's NRDs, please see the 'Links' page.