How to Collect Sample

Please read before sampling

We cannot accept samples in unapproved sample containers for certain analytes. We recommend that you come to the lab for free sample bottles before collection and for additional sample information.

Make sure you write the date and time that you took the sample ON THE BOTTLE, along with your initials and the address where the sample was taken. Note, that there is a 3 week turnaround time on non-bacterial results

All samples must be received within 24 hours of being taken. If they are received after that time, or testing cannot begin within the 24 hour hold time, they will not be accepted. As soon as you take the samples, place them in wet ice immediately to begin the chilling process. Frozen samples will NOT be accepted.

ALL samples must be received IN WET ICE (a combination of water & ice cubes). They must be at the proper temperature (< 6°C) and the lab must be able to begin testing within the hold time, or the results will be qualified, which means they may not be accurate. Normally, qualified results are not accepted by regulatory agencies.

If possible, please print and fill out the highlighted areas of our Chain of Custody. If unable, you can obtain a Chain of Custody from the lab when picking up or dropping off sample bottles. Samples can only be accepted with a completed Chain of Custody.

Please contact the lab if you have any questions or concerns about proper sampling procedures.

How to Collect Sample for Drinking Water

Nitrite (NO2), Nitrate (NO3), Nitrite + Nitrate (NOX)

Usually taken from the spigot at the well, OUTSIDE, unless it is a Point of Entry (inside the home, such as a faucet or shower) sample. If sample is POE take sample after the treatment system. Fill both bottles at the same time, and fill to the top. Place in wet ice.

At this time, we do not accept NO2/NO3/NOx samples on Friday or the day before a holiday.

Bacteria (MUG, test for Total Coliform and EColi)-

If an agency is requesting the test, they need to specify whether water is taken from inside the home or from the well spigot. Fill to the fill line indicated on the bottle. This is the minimum sample line. If the sample is not full enough, it will not be accepted. Do not overflow or rinse bottle. Place in wet ice.


Remove aerator from faucet, if present. Open faucet or hose bib fully for a couple of seconds. Clean the faucet or hose bib with 10% household bleach solution and an old toothbrush (spritz and scrub enough times to clean) and let the water run for 5 minutes and then proceed to fill the container. Do not rinse out the container, overflow the container or dip the container into water when sampling, or the test will be invalid. Overly full or underfilled bottles will not be accepted.

The cutoff for bacteria samples is 2:30pm. If they are brought in after that time, they will not be processed until the following day.

Lead (Pb)

Taken from INSIDE the house, first draw of the day. Before anyone runs any water, fill the lead bottle from the cold water faucet and fill it up to the top. Do not put bleach in the sample. Place in wet ice. If the house has been empty, flush the lines for several minutes (wait at least 6 hours) and then take the sample.

How to Collect Sample for Surface Water

Collect surface grab samples within the top 12 inches of the water column. Avoid skimming the surface of the water during collection. Very shallow water bodies require careful techniques of sample collection to avoid disturbing sediments.

Where practical, use the actual sample container as the collection device (direct grab). Sample containers attached to poles are also considered direct grabs.

The use of unpreserved sample containers is encouraged since the same container can be submitted for laboratory analysis after appropriate preservation. This procedure reduces sample handling and potential loss of analytes or contamination of the sample from other sources.

  • Remove the container cap and slowly submerge the container, opening first, into the water.
  • Invert the bottle so the opening is upright and pointing upstream into the oncoming direction of water flow (if applicable). Allow water to run slowly into the container until filled.
  • Return the filled container quickly to the surface.