Microbiology

Microbiology – Coliform Bacteria

We test water from private wells and community water systems for coliform bacteria and E. coli.

Why test for coliform bacteria?

Coliform bacteria exist virtually everywhere in our environment and are generally not harmful. The presence of coliform bacteria in drinking water can indicate that a water system has been breached and that material from the surrounding environment is contaminating the water. Some of these contaminants may be disease-causing organisms.

Testing for every disease-causing organism is costly, difficult and impractical. For this reason, coliform bacteria tests have been used for most of the last century as an indicator of overall water quality, including the presence or absence of disease-causing organisms.

Whenever Anatek Labs, Inc. receives a sample that tests positive for coliform bacteria, that sample is also tested for the presence of E. coli, which can help in the investigation for the source of contamination.

What is E. coli?

Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, is a member of the coliform bacteria family that can cause severe intestinal illness. Symptoms of E. coli may include diarrhea, fever and dehydration. The presence of E. coli in a water sample suggests contamination with fecal material.

What about other disease-causing organisms?

Some diseases that spread through drinking water (such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis giardiasis and dysentery) are caused by kinds of bacteria that do not belong to the coliform family. However, if no coliform bacteria colonies are found in a sample, there is good reason to believe the water system is free of any disease-causing organisms.

What if my water tests positive for coliform bacteria?

Most bacteria can be purged from your system with a simple disinfection procedure. Re-testing your water source after disinfection can help ensure that the system has been effectively purged.

The document (from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality) details the steps involved in disinfecting a well.  After disinfection, you should retest the well for coliform.  For accurate test results, there must be no bleach in the sample.

Disinfecting Water Wells and Storage Tanks FAQ

Sampling

Because samples can be easily contaminated during collection, special care must be taken when collecting coliform bacteria samples. Click here for sampling instructions.

Below are links to sampling instructions, chains of custody, and pricing information for microbiology samples:

Sampling Instructions

ID Micro Chain: ID – Bacteria

WA Micro Chain: WA – Bacteria

Price List – Microbiological Testing

 

Coliform Testing Overview

These sites provides a good overview of coliform bacteria and E. coli testing.

http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/coliform_bacteria.htm

http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/DrinkingWater/Contaminants/Coliform.aspx 

 

Washington / Idaho Information

Private well information and contact phone numbers are also available from the Washington Departments of Ecology and Health (Private Wells: Information for Owners) and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (Private Wells).

For Idaho customers, local public health district contact information is available here (Bacteria In Your Well Water).

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Sample Delivery
Coliform bacteria samples are accepted Monday through Thursday from 8 am –5 pm. A special sample bottle is required for this test. Use only a bottle provided by Anatek Labs, Inc. or a health department.

Weekend /Friday Samples
Coliform bacteria sample are not accepted on Fridays unless prior arrangements have been made with the laboratory. An additional fee is applied for samples accepted on Friday.

Confidentiality
Anatek Labs, Inc. maintains a policy of strict confidentiality regarding all information of our clients. No information will be released to anyone other than our clients without written or, in some cases, verbal authorization.

Reporting
In the event that a sample tests positive for coliform bacteria, Anatek Labs, Inc. will contact the customer immediately by phone. Results of samples which do not indicate the presence of coliform bacteria will be mailed within 10 business days. Please notify the laboratory if results are needed sooner.

Payment
Prepayment is required for all customers unless credit has been approved. Overdue accounts are subject to a service charge of 1.75% per month on all unpaid balances. Prices are subject to change without notice. We accept cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.