Water Testing

Water Testing

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. In the late 1990’s, the United State Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) eliminated new uses of asbestos in insulation, brakes, floor and ceiling tiles, cement, paper, and all other processes associated with asbestos.

Additionally, several state and federal regulations now exist that: require school systems to investigate whether asbestos exposure is a problem inside school buildings, and if so, to reduce or eliminate the exposure; control release of asbestos from factories and during building demolition or renovation to prevent asbestos from getting into the environment; require disposal of waste asbestos materials or products in only approved locations; establish standard limits of fibers that may be present in drinking water; and regulate the concentration of asbestos allowed in air in the workplace.


Asbestos in drinking-water can come from a variety of different sources including asbestos containing minerals, industrial waste, and asbestos roofing and pipes. Rainwater collected from roofs containing asbestos cement (AC), for example, may contain asbestos. Similarly, any AC pipes used in a water distribution system may degrade over time, allowing asbestos material to enter drinking-water.

Total Coliform Bacteria

In 1999 - 2000, contaminated private well water caused 26% of the drinking water outbreaks that made people sick. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rules that protect public drinking water systems do not apply to privately owned wells.

Coliform bacteria are microorganisms found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals as well as in soil, on vegetation, and in surface water runoff. Finding coliform bacteria in a water supply is an indication that there is a potential for disease-producing organisms to be present also.

Coliform bacteria washed into the ground by rain or melting snow are usually filtered out as water percolates through the soil. However, poorly-constructed or unsealed wells, fractured rock outcroppings, sinkholes, and quarries may provide a path for coliform bacteria to enter groundwater.

Once in the groundwater, bacteria can easily pollute drinking water used by private well owners. Other bacteria, viruses and parasites, which can cause illness, can be in water containing coliform bacteria.