Water Testing Guide

221 State Street
Station #12
Augusta, Maine  04333

  Tel.: 207-287-1716
  Toll Free: 866-LAB-HETL (866-522-4385)
  TTY: Maine relay 711
  FAX: 207-287-6832

 

Requesting Water Tests has become increasingly complex as the number and complexity of potential contaminates also increase.  To help in the selection of the appropriate testing of water, this Water Testing Guide has several sections.  First, a general description and educational information is provided to help individuals consider which water tests would be most useful, a WATER TEST SELECTION GUIDE.  Second, SPECIFIC DESCRIPTIONS of each of the standard tests offered are described, organized by type of water test.  Lastly, the FEES, as established through State Regulatory Administrative Procedures Act are listed.

To further assist in the test selection process, most testing needs have an associated code name; i.e. TEST A.  IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ON HOW TO REQUEST A TEST OR COMPLETE THE APPLICATION, OR QUESTIONS ON YOUR WATER TEST RESULTS, PLEASE CONTACT THE HETL AT 287-1716.  If necessary, a chemist or microbiologist can return your call with interpretations and recommendations.

In order to have your water tested, complete and detach the application form and return it to the HETL along with the appropriate fee.  Water test bottle(s) will be mailed to you.  Please KEEP PAGES 1 - 8 to refer to when you receive your test results.

Please also note, this Laboratory has been merged with the former Department of Environmental Protection laboratory.  As a result of this merger additional tests are now available that are more environmentally oriented, i.e. Demand Series, TCLP, complex organic tests.  If you desire further information regarding the availability and costs of other environmental health or monitoring needs, please contact the HETL.

Publication Revision Date:  August 1, 2010


WATER TEST SELECTION GUIDE

This guide attempts to simplify a very complex subject.  The HETL has applied Code Names to help to identify tests: i.e TEST "A" -TEST "X".  We also offer recommendations for testing and guidelines to help you choose what test for what kind of problem (bad odor, taste, staining or suspected contaminants [i.e, Arsenic, MTBE etc]).

TESTS FOR PRIVATE WELLS

Half of Maine’s population gets it drinking water from private wells.  It is felt that very few of them are routinely tested.  By contrast, public water supplies are tested between monthly and every year, depending on the numbers of customers they serve.  Below are some routine tests that every private well owner should consider.  Costs are determined according to the time and materials associated with the tests and most tests are provided by several labs in Maine. The following is a recommendation from the State of Maine Bureau of Health.  [NOTE: A recommendation for a new or untested water supply would be in this order of priority (1) Test BA for many metals (including arsenic and uranium), bacteria and other inorganics and (2) Test M for volatile organics (gasoline, MTBE etc.) and (3) Test S for Radon as an indicator of natural radioactivity]

Test For What
Name of the Test
What Does this Test Include
Cost
When Should I Test

Basic Safety Test

A

screening test for bacteria and some other substances – nitrate/nitrite

$30

Every Year

New Well Evaluation


 

New Well Test

BA*

 

 

 

New Well Test

A test plus Fluoride, Chloride, Hardness, Copper, Iron, pH, Manganese, Uranium and Arsenic

BA with bacteria count

$70

 

 

 

$70

Before Initial Use and every 3-5 years.  Most Common Complete Inorganic Test Requested.

New Well

Federal Government Recommendation

BF*

BA test with Color, Turbidity, Odor, Sodium, Uranium, and Lead,  but without Arsenic 

$77

Before Initial Use and every 3-5 years.

More Complete Tests

FHA

BF test with Arsenic

$84

Instead of Test BF, Before Initial Use and every 3-5 years

Most Complete Private Test when Leachate is not suspected

C*

BA test with Color, Turbidity, Odor, Sodium, Detergents, Cadmium, and Zinc

$110

Instead of Test B’s before Initial Use and every 3-5 years

Healthy Home Kit   New Well Test, Radon Water & Short Term Radon Air Tests $120 Every 5 years

Radon

S

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Radon gas in Water

$30

Every 5-10 Years, Most Common Radioactivity Test Requested

Lead-First Draw (Second Draw is also available to rule out ground water-Test H-Lead)

PB1

Because the source of Lead is usually NOT the ground water, but the plumbing, a unique sample is required for a First Draw Lead

$20

Every 10 Years for homes built before 1990 (lead soldering was banned)

Single Test

H

Individual metal (arsenic, etc.)

$20

 

Gross Alpha

U

Naturally occurring radioactivity

$60

Every 5-10 Years

Gasoline or MTBE

VPHW

Gasoline and MTBE

$90

Most Common Organic Test Requested

 

* NOTES: Lead can be present in the water source or in the plumbing or both. To test for lead in the plumbling, a Lead-First Draw-"PB1" should be requested as a separate test. Arsenic was added several years ago because of growing concern for natural arsenic in Maine; Uranium is now also being offered as a "free" added test because this element is a good indicator of the presence of natural radiation.

AS A REFERENCE ONLY,  HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF REQUIRED TESTING FOR SOME REGULATED WATER SUPPLIES

COMMUNITY WATER SUPPLIES
Test E1 Inorganics
Test VOC 524 Volatile organics screen
Test Chlorinated Acids Herbicide Screen>
Test SVO 525 Pesticide Screen, phenolics, PNA’s, semivolatiles
Test Carbam 531 Carbamates
Test Radon Water Radon in water
Test Gross Alpha Gross Alpha

                    
                        NON-COMMUNITY WATER SUPPLIES

Regularly serving more than 25 people for 4 or more hours/day for 4 or more days/week, i.e.:  schools, factories, any work establishment that employs more than 25 people.

Test E1                Inorganics

Test VOC 524    Volatile organics screen with Vinyl Chloride (must indicate when ordering)

                        EATING & LODGING WATER SUPPLIES

Test E1            required for:          1)  sit down restaurant or 2)  lodging for 25 people or more per day

Test B              required for:          1)  Take-out only, or 2)  Bed & Breakfast or lodging less than 25 people per day

TYPICAL WATER PROBLEMS AND RECOMMENDED TESTS 

Problem Recommended Test
Bad odor or taste:
-  swamp, sewer.............. TEST D1
-  musty.................... TEST B, BA, BF, C & Iron Bacteria
-  sour, salty, metallic..... TEST C
-  salty..................... TEST Sodium & Chloride
-  fruity, cucumber.......... TEST Iron Bacteria
-  fishy, sweet, perfume..... TEST Iron Bacteria &  VOC 524
-  mothballs................. TEST VOC 524
-  rotten eggs............... TEST Iron Bacteria
-  gasoline............. TEST VPHW (volatile petroleum hydrocarbons)
-  fuel oil, kerosene, motor oil TEST TEPHW (extractable petroleum hydrocarbons)
Staining of sink, tub, laundry.... TEST B, BA, BF, FHA, C
Scaling or chalky residue on hot water pipes, heater TEST B, BA, BF, FHA, C


SUSPECTED CONTAMINATION

Contamination
Test
Bacteria...............................
TEST A, all B tests, C
Fertilizer near water..................
TEST A, all B tests, C
Sewage, manure, near water.............
TEST D1
Vegetation or dead animal in water.....
TEST A, all B tests, C
Road salt stored near water............
TEST BF, FHA, C, H -(sodium & chloride)
Copper, arsenic, uranium or iron leaching ....
TEST BA, BF, FHA, or C
Dump, landfill, or industrial waste leachate
TEST F, N, & O
Gasoline in water..........
TEST VPHW
Fuel oil, kerosene, motor oil TEST TEPHW
Forest, weed or crop spraying..........
- Pesticides
TEST SVO 525
- Herbicides
TEST Chlorinated Acids
- Carbamates
TEST Carbam 531
PCB’s in water
TEST PCBW
Chemical by-products after chlorinating surface water (lake, pond, river, stream) for drinking
TEST THM 524
Radon in water or air, if well. is drilled into granite
TEST Radon Water, Short or Long Term Air Radon


FOR OTHER UNKNOWN CONTAMINANTS CALL

HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING LABORATORY

(207) 287-1716

  PAYMENT POLICY

In general Laboratory requires prepayment for sample "kits" or for faster processing,  the "kit" can be ordered by telephone and payment to the State included with the filled water sample "kit".  Repeat users should inquire about establishing an account with the HETL


ROUTINE WATER TESTS, LISTED IN ORDER OF COMPLETENESS

* TEST A  $30.00
Test A is recommended as a periodic recheck after a previous, more complete analysis (Tests B - F), and tests for:  COLIFORM BACTERIA, NITRATE AND NITRITE NITROGEN

Bacteria and nitrogen compounds are the most common contaminants in drinking water.  If present in amounts greater than safety standards, nitrate or nitrite presents a serious health risk to infants and bacteria may cause illness for both adults and children.  Water suspected to contain these contaminants should not be consumed.

* TEST A1  $30.00
Test A with Turbidity added.


* TEST B  $58.00
This is a basic test, including all Test A (COLIFORM BACTERIA, NITRATE AND NITRITE NITROGEN plus:
FLUORIDE, CHLORIDE, HARDNESS, COPPER, IRON, pH and MANGANESE:
(substances affecting taste, color, odor, staining and corrosive qualities of water)

* TEST BA  $70.00     Most Common Test Requested for New Water Supplies:
COLIFORM BACTERIA, NITRATE AND NITRITE NITROGEN, FLUORIDE, CHLORIDE, HARDNESS, COPPER, IRON, PH and MANGANESE, URANIUM and ARSENIC
This test is recommended for new water supplies and includes all of Test B and URANIUM and ARSENIC

*TEST NEW WELL TEST $70.00 FOR NEW WELLS
        
This is the same test as the BA plus it will provide a numerical count if bacteria are present.

* TEST BF  $77.00 - THIS TEST INCLUDES ALL OF TEST B ANALYSIS PLUS COLOR, TURBIDITY, ODOR, SODIUM, LEAD & URANIUM.

* TEST FHA  $84.00 This Test Covers and includes all test BF plus Arsenic.


* TEST C  $110.00
This test is recommended for new water supplies when a more thorough analysis is desired.
This test includes all of Test BA and Color, Turbidity, Odor, Sodium, Zinc, Cadmium, and Detergents.

*HEALTHY HOME KIT $120.00
This kit is a combination of our NEW WELL TEST, Radon Air Short Term and Radon Water tests. You will receive all of your test results on one report.

SPECIFIC TESTS FOR ADDITIONAL WATER QUALITY INFORMATION

* TEST D1 $94.00
This test is recommended if contamination from septic tank discharge, cesspool, or other sewage disposal area is suspected.

TOTAL COLIFORM, E. COLI, NITRATE and NITRITE NITROGEN
(most common contaminants in drinking water -- see Test A for health concern information)
CHLORIDE, HARDNESS, COPPER, IRON, pH and MANGANESE
(substances affecting the taste, color, odor, staining and corrosive qualities of water)
COLOR, TURBIDITY, DETERGENTS and AMMONIA NITROGEN
(additional characteristics affecting water quality)


* TEST E1 $165.00 (Test E2 with total coliform)

* TEST E2 $154.00
This is a required initial test for community water supplies and tests for:
NITRATE AND NITRITE NITROGEN, CHLORIDE, HARDNESS, FLUORIDE, COPPER, IRON, MANGANESE, ZINC, ARSENIC, BARIUM, CADMIUM, CHROMIUM, LEAD, MERCURY, SILVER, SELENIUM, SODIUM, COLOR, TURBIDITY, pH and optional TOTAL COLIFORM

* IF EPA MANDATES ADDITIONAL DIGESTION, AN ADDITIONAL $17.00 IS NECESSARY


* TEST F   LEACHATE TESTING, PER DEP MONITORING REQUIREMENTS  $315.00
This test is recommended if contamination from industrial waste, landfill or dump leachate is suspected.  Test F tests for:
TOTAL COLIFORM BACTERIA, E. COLI, NITRATE AND NITRITE NITROGEN and SODIUM:
(most common contaminants in drinking water - see Test A for  health concern information)
CHLORIDE, HARDNESS, COPPER, IRON, pH, ALKALINITY, BICARBONATE, MAGNESIUM, CALCIUM and MANGANESE:
(substances affecting taste, color, odor, staining and corrosive qualities of water)
COLOR, TURBIDITY (cloudiness), TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS, AMMONIA NITROGEN, CONDUCTIVITY, POTASSIUM, BARIUM, TOTAL ORGANIC CARBON and SULFATE:
(additional physical characteristics affecting water quality)
ARSENIC, CADMIUM, CHROMIUM, LEAD and MERCURY.
(heavy metals which can be harmful in high concentrations)


* TEST G $20.00 PER ITEM
This is a test for BACTERIA in a private water supply and includes one or more of the following organisms:
TOTAL COLIFORMS AND E. COLI(TC+ECS); FECAL COLIFORMS(FC); OR STANDARD PLATE COUNT(SPC)
Please specify the desired organism(s) on the application page, last page.

* TEST GS $20.00
This is a resample test for COLIFORM BACTERIA which includes MP (Most Probable Number) test and should be requested after a previous test indicates gross bacterial contamination of the water supply (TNTC, Too Numerous to Count or CG, Confluent Growth) and the water system has been disinfected.


* MISC $20.00 PER ITEM
Use this test when testing is desired for a SPECIFIC item or items from the following list:
NITRATE AND NITRITE NITROGEN, CHLORIDE, HARDNESS, COPPER, IRON, pH, MANGANESE, COLOR, TURBIDITY, FLUORIDE, SODIUM, DETERGENTS, CONDUCTIVITY, TOTAL SOLIDS, AMMONIA NITROGEN, ARSENIC, BARIUM, CADMIUM, CHROMIUM, LEAD, SILVER, SELENIUM, URANIUM (Specify the desired test (s) on the application form, last page)

* TEST HG       MERCURY   $20.00 


* TEST Iron Bacteria $30.00 per item
This test checks for presence of IRON BACTERIA. A check for iron bacteria is recommended if the water is discolored, has a rotten egg odor, or causes a rusty slime to build up in the toilet tank.


* TEST Ecoli Swimming Fresh $20.00
Freshwater swimming test   This test measures the density of E.coli in freshwater swimming areas. Test kit includes sample bottle, cooler with ice pack, and prepaid mailing label.

TEST Enterococci Swimming $20.00
Saltwater swimming test. This test measures the density of enterococci in saltwater swimming areas. Test kit includes sample bottle, cooler with ice pack, and prepaid label.


* TEST PB1 $20.00
A test for FIRST DRAW LEAD. The test kit is a large one liter container that collects the first drawn water in a pipe after the water in the pipe remains stagnant for 8 hours.

TESTS FOR ORGANIC COMPOUND CONTAMINANTS

There are thousands of organic compounds.  To test for these compounds the this laboratory separates them into two classes of compounds based on the compound's boiling point; i.e. VOLATILES and SEMI-VOLATILES.  Each class is separated and screened for presence of organic compounds (i.e. TESTS GRO, VOC 524, & SVO 525).

This laboratory will make every reasonable effort to determine the specific identity and concentration of all separated compounds detected on the screen.  Further testing, at cost to the applicant, may be necessary (See TEST R).

Additional pricing for unique test requests may require use of an hourly fee schedule; volume and complexity of the request would be factors in this determination.  Contact the Laboratory for further information regarding such needs.


* TEST VPHW $90.00  
The VOLATILE PETROLEUM SCREEN tests to see if the water contains GASOLINE or MTBE (a gasoline component).  Use this test if you suspect gasoline in your water.


* TEST VPHS $100.00
The test is similar to Test VPH, but for soils, and provides a measure of gasoline in soil.  Use this to determine soil contamination from an underground storage tank.


* TEST TEPH $175.00
Test for Diesel Range Organics and fuel oil.  An extraction screen analysis for semi-volatile petroleum organics.


* TEST VOC 524 $160.00 (EPA DRINKING WATER TEST)
The VOLATILE ORGANICS SCREEN is an EPA approved test (method 524.2) for most common solvents and degreasers as well as many low boiling organic industrial pollutants.


* TEST SVO 525  $240.00 (DRINKING WATER)
The SEMI-VOLATILES ORGANIC SCREEN test uses a solid phase extraction technique to extract higher boiling compounds from the water sample. These higher boiling compounds include:  POLY NUCLEAR AROMATICS, PLASTICIZERS, some DYE RESIDUES, WOOD PRESERVATIVES and other priority pollutants.  This is an EPA GC/MS method that follows EPA procedure 525.2.

* TEST SVO/PEST - PCB (TSO/TCP) $305.00
This test includes the compounds analyzed for the TSO test plus: Chlordane, PCB’s, and Toxaphene.


* TEST THM 524 $100.00
This test is performed according to Safe Drinking Water Act criteria for total TRIHALOMETHANES.  Trihalomethanes can result from chlorination of water used for drinking.


* TEST PCBW- PCB’s IN WATER $165.00
This test is a screen for Polychlorinated Biphenyls in water.


* TEST Chlorinated Acids HERBICIDE SCREEN $220.00
HERBICIDE SCREEN - A general screening method for the detection of the phenoxy acid herbicides and residues of Dinoseb (DNBP), DICAMBA and PENTACHLOROPHENOL.  This test is EPA Method 515.2.


* TEST Carbam 531CARBAMATE PESTICIDES $140.00
Analytes include: Carbofuran, Oxamyl, Aldicarb (Temik), Carbaryl, Methomyl, and 3-Hydroxycarbofuran.


* TEST Research (Cost to be determined upon request at $70.00 per hour)
This test is for a specific PESTICIDE, VOLATILE ORGANIC or SEMI-VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND.  Before testing inform the lab of the specific pesticides or other compounds used near the water supply.

RADIOLOGICAL TESTS

*TEST Gamma Scan $55.00
Test for GAMMA in water.


* TEST Radon Water $30.00
The RADON WATER test tests for naturally occurring radioactive gas present in many drilled wells.


* TEST Short Term Radon Air $30.00
The RADON AIR test is recommended to determine air radon concentrations from all sources including soils, building materials, and radon from well water (particularly if Test S exceeds 15,0000 - 20,000 picocuries*.  This is a 2-3 day test.


*TEST Tritium $55.00
Test for TRITIUM.


* TEST Gross Alpha $60.00
This test measures GROSS ALPHA, the naturally occurring radioactivity in water, but does not test for radon.  This test is required for public water supplies.


* TEST UX $99.00
Test for GROSS ALPHA and GROSS BETA in water.


* TEST V $215.00
Test for RADIUM in water.  This test is recommended if gross alpha (Test U) is more than 5 picocuries*.


* TEST Radium 228 $165.00
Test for RADIUM 228 ONLY in water.


*TEST Gross Beta $60.00
Test for GROSS BETA in water


* These concentrations are subject to change by the EPA.