I am Registered with the Ohio Department of Health as a Private Water Systems Contractor to perform well inspections and to take water samples.
We can test for Total Coliform, E-coli, Lead, Nitrates, Nitrites. The EPA has designated total coliform bacteria as a standard test to determine bacterial safety of water. Coliform bacteria originate in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals and can be found in their wastes. Coliform bacteria can also be found in soil and on vegetation. Coliform bacteria are relatively simple to identify and are present in much larger numbers than more dangerous pathogens. Coliform bacteria react to the natural environment and treatment processes in a manner and degree similar to pathogens. By monitoring coliform bacteria, the increase or decrease of many pathogenic bacteria can be estimated.
Due to this association, the bacterial safety of drinking water is monitored by testing for total coliform bacteria. Bacterial testing is provided, for a fee of $70, Lead, Nitrates and Nitrites have a fee of $40 each when done in conjunction with coliform. If you choose to do the well quality / quantity the fee is $125, this includes the total coliform test and the well quantity. We take the sample using a sterilized sampling bottle using procedures set by the EPA.
Once the sample has been taken it has to go to a EPA Certified lab within 24 hours. When a laboratory receives a water sample, it gives the sample a number and the time of arrival is stamped on the accompanying form. One hundred milliliters (ml) (about 3.4 fl. oz.) of the sample is then drawn through a membrane filter. This filter is placed on a nutrient broth culture plate and placed in an incubator for 24 hours at 35°C (95°F) for culturing. The plates then are removed from the incubator and the number of coliform bacteria colonies are counted. The sample goes through quality control and in 48 hours the result are in.