Owners or managers of public water systems are
required by law to submit water samples to an
approved laboratory. Individuals wishing to check
their private wells may also submit samples to a
There is a $15.00 – 25.00 fee for each sample
submitted. Individuals who are not employed by a
public system should not submit samples on that
system. They should contact the system office or
Harris County Public Health and Environmental
Services (HCPHES) regarding complaints and
information about the water supply.
This test is for the coliform organism, which is
commonly found in sewage and surface waters. If
coliform organisms are found, they indicate that the
contaminated with potentially disease causing
organisms possibly from sewage, or surface water.
This test is
only suitable for closed and properly sealed
systems. Samples from streams, ponds,
unprotected springs, open storage tanks and unsealed
wells usually show contamination. It should be noted
that samples indicate the condition of the water
only at the time the sample is taken.
Samples must be collected in a Laboratory supplied
bottle. An outside faucet
(with mouth facing downward) is the preferred place
to collect the sample. Samples should not be
collected from faucets with leaky washers or valve
stems, from drinking fountains, hoses, open pipes or
other places that cannot be properly sterilized.
The tap should be flushed a short time; the mouth of
the faucet flamed to dryness (with a propane torch,
lighter, etc.) to sterilize it; the water turned
back on, and the sample bottle filled to the 100/ml
mark. The fingers or any other object should not be
permitted to come in contact with the inside of the
cap or the lip of the bottle. Accidental
contamination is very possible if every precaution
is not taken.
Do not rinse the bottle or empty it during the
process; it contains a chemical used to neutralize
chlorine. Replace the cap carefully and tighten.
A report form is supplied with each bottle. Fill out
the form with a black ballpoint pen and take it with
the sample to the laboratory. If the sample is taken
for a public system, be sure it is identified
properly on the report form; otherwise, it will not
be recorded on the system’s record.
The City of
Houston Department of Health and Human Services
(HDHHS) has a laboratory located at 2250 Holcombe
Blvd. You may also look in the yellow pages
under laboratories for other labs in your area. You
should receive the results by mail in about one
week. Samples containing an insufficient amount of
water or samples submitted in bottles other than
those furnished by the laboratory will not be
Samples must arrive at the laboratory within 30
hours after collection.
For further information call:
Environmental Public Health Division