Washington law defines a public water system as any water system, except a single family system or a system with four or fewer connections, that serve residences on a single farm.
Group A Systems: Washington Administrative Code classifies Group A public water systems as those serving 15 or more households, businesses with 25 or more customers per day, or facilities such as schools, that serve more than 25 people per day. Group A systems must complete monthly water quality sampling. If you operate a water association and need to test your drinking water, you can visit the Washington State Department of Health’s drinking water website, to determine your past testing submissions, and current requirements. For Group A Water system monitoring requirements, visit the Washington State Legislature home page.
Group B Systems: Washington Administrative Code classifies Group B public water systems as those serving 2-14 households, or very small businesses with fewer than 25 customers per day. Group B systems generally must complete annual sampling for Total Coliform Bacteria and sampling for Nitrate every three years. If you operate a water association and need to test your drinking water, you can visit the Washington State Department of Health’s drinking water website, to determine your past testing submissions, and current requirements. Click HERE to download the Washington State Department of Health’s guide for Group B Water Systems.
For the EPA’s quick reference guide to the Lead and Copper rule, click HERE.
If your water system receives unsatisfactory Total Coliform Bacteria sample results, you must collect a set of repeat samples. If your water system uses groundwater, you must also collect triggered source samples from any groundwater source that was in use when you collected the unsatisfactory routine sample. You must collect triggered source samples before treatment, to indicate whether your groundwater is the source of contamination. To view the complete DOH Fact Sheet on how to follow up after an unsatisfactory Total Coliform Bacteria sample, click HERE.
Please see below for instructions on collecting samples for routine compliance.
HOW TO COLLECT A SAMPLE FOR METALS/INORGANICS
Stop by our office or drop box location, and pick up one or more collapsible cube container(s) along with an instruction sheet and a Chain of Custody form. Please do not open container(s) until sample is to be taken.
Remove cap and inflate cube container completely by blowing into the opening. As this container is for inorganic tests, you will not contaminate the sample by blowing into the container.
If sampling from inside a residence, remove all attachments and/or filters from the faucet before taking the sample. Turn on cold water only. Do not take sample from a hose or hot water faucet.
If you are sampling for lead and copper or other metals from your plumbing, take the sample(s) first thing in the morning without running the water first. Water should have been standing for at least six hours but not more than twelve hours. The sampling location should be from where you draw most of your drinking water. *Please note that schools must submit lead and copper in 250 mL bottles.
For nitrate and most other inorganics, sample directly from a point representative of the source, after treatment, and prior to entry to the distribution system.
Make sure cap is secured tightly. Label container(s) with name, address, or other identifier. Keep sample(s) in the refrigerator or on ice until returned to the lab.
Complete the Chain of Custody / Water Sample Information form with name, address, phone number, date and time of collection, location and source of sample(s), analysis needed, and public system identification number. Standard turn-around time for results is 6-10 working days from receipt of the sample unless arrangements are made (this time may vary depending on the analysis). If testing is a compliance sample, the lab will send a copy of the report directly to the Washington State Department of Health.
HOW TO COLLECT YOUR ROUTINE TOTAL COLIFORM BACTERIA SAMPLE
Use an inside faucet. Use faucets that have separate hot and cold handles. Bath fixtures are a good choice. Avoid swivel taps, such as those found on kitchen sinks, as these faucets have a greater chance of harboring bacteria. Remove all attachments from the faucet, including aerators, screens, hoses and/or filters.
Turn on cold water only and let it run with a steady stream for at least 5 minutes. Before collecting the sample turn the water down so that the stream is about the width of a pencil, then let the water run for one minute.
When you are ready to take the
sample hold the bottle near the bottom and unscrew the cap. Avoid touching the edge of the cap, and avoid splashing it as the sample is collected. Do not touch the inside of the cap or bottle.
Fill the water to the 100 mL line, do not allow it to overflow. Do not rinse the bottle before taking sample. The bottle contains a small amount of white powder (dechlorinating agent) that is a necessary chemical for the analysis.
Replace the lid as soon as the bottle is filled and removed from the flow. Keep sample in the refrigerator or on ice until it is returned to the lab. Samples must be returned within 24 hours of collection.
Fill out the lab slip with name, address, phone number, time and date of collection, and public system information.