Drinking water samples at NEL

Collecting Drinking Water Samples for Bacteria Testing

When you are ready to have your drinking water tested for bacteria, call, e-mail, or visit the lab to obtain a drinking water bacteria test kit. The kit contains a sterilized sample bottle, sampling instructions, and a return mailing box. It is important to use the bacteria test kit to help ensure accurate test results. The sample bottle is sterilized to assure the sample is not contaminated by bacteria in the bottle.

Sampling Guidelines

Please read instructions carefully since failure to follow proper sampling procedure can result in invalid test results.

  • Take the sample from a faucet that you use for drinking and cooking, usually a kitchen faucet.
  • Do not touch or contaminate the inside of the bottle or cap. Open the sample bottle carefully and hold only the outside of the cap.
  • Refrigerate the sample and transport it to the laboratory in an cooler with ice packs within 24 hours. Sample Drop Off Hours: Monday – Thursday 8am-4:30pm.

Sampling Instructions

  1. Remove the screen/aerator from the faucet before collecting the sample.
  2. Dry the mouth of the faucet and wipe with alcohol to sterilize. (If sample must be collected from an outside faucet, first clean with bleach.)
  3. Run the cold water for at least two minutes.
  4. Collect a cold-water sample in a sterile bottle from the drinking water bacteria test kit, leaving some air space in the container.

A final report will be mailed when all tests are completed.

For more information:

Bacteria in Drinking Water

When Should You Test Your Drinking Water?

Lead in Drinking Water

EPA Drinking Water and Health: What you need to know