For Home Owners

While there is no one single test that determines potability, there are some common tests that can be considered.

Total Coliform Bacteria are present in the environment and feces of all warm blooded animals and humans. Total Coliform Bacteria are unlikely to cause illness, however their presence in drinking water indicates that disease causing organisms (pathogens such as E. Coli) could be in your water. If Total Coliform Bacteria is present, the laboratory will also test the sample for E. Coli. Total Coliform bacteria testing costs $21, and the sample must be returned to the laboratory within 24 hours of collection.

Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As. Arsenic is a metalloid, and occurs naturally in many minerals. It can be used in the production of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Arsenic is found in wells throughout Washington, sometimes at levels that may cause health problems. For more information about arsenic, visit the Washington State Department of Health or the Environmental Protection Agency‘s pages about Arsenic in Drinking Water. An Arsenic test costs $23, and takes 6-10 working days for results.

Chloride is an ion with the symbol Cl. The presence of Chloride in drinking water can be an indication of saltwater intrusion, and can also contribute to conditions that cause pitting corrosion of some metals. A Chloride test costs $20, and takes 6-10 working days for results.

Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu. Most copper in drinking water is the result of household plumbing corroding. For more information about copper, visit the Washington State Department of Health. Households collecting a copper sample should collect a sample in an approved container (a cubitainer). A Copper test costs $23, and takes 6-10 working days for results. If done in conjunction with lead, a discounted price of $36 applies.

Hardness occurs in water with a high mineral content. Hard water is generally not considered a health hazard by the Department of Health, but in domestic settings can cause a build up of mineral deposits. For more information on water hardness, visit the U.S. Geological Survey website. Hardness testing costs $24, and takes 6-10 working days.

Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe. Brown, red or orange water is usually caused by iron rust. While unpleasant and potentially harmful to clothing and fixtures, iron is generally not considered to be a human health concern. Iron testing costs $23, and takes 6-10 working days.

Lead (symbol Pb) is a metal found in natural deposits, and is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. Lead can be toxic to the kidneys and nervous system, and can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Health or the Environmental Protection Agency‘s pages about lead in drinking water. A lead analysis costs $23, and takes 6-10 working days. If done in conjunction with copper, a discounted price of $36 applies.

Nitrate is a polyatomic ion with the molecular formula NO3. It is a chemical found in most fertilizers, manure, and liquid waste. Infants who drink water containing high levels of Nitrate can become seriously ill, and may suffer from “blue baby syndrome”. For more information on Nitrate, visit the Washington State Department of Health. A Nitrate test is $20, and samples must be tested within 24-48 hours of collection.

(Click HERE for printable collection instructions)

*Click HERE for a comprehensive menu of tests that we offer.

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.

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 requested, and public system information if required. Standard turn-around time for results is 6-10 working days from receipt of sample unless arrangements are made (this time may vary depending on the analysis).

HOW TO COLLECT YOUR 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

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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 tested within 24 hours of collection.

Fill out the lab slip with name, address, phone number, time and date of collection.

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