Public Health: Drinking Water Information & Testing
Tarrant County Public Health
Tarrant County Public Health
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{Tarrant County Public Health - Safeguarding Our Community}

Environmental/Consumer Protection

Drinking Water Information & Testing

{Photo of bottled water}

Tarrant County Public Health North Texas Regional Laboratory has two types of drinking water tests available; bacteriological analysis and chemical analysis.

Testing for two types of bacteria, Total Coliform organisms and E. coli, in drinking water is required by the EPA for all public drinking water systems on an ongoing basis and is recommended annually for private individuals with their own water well systems. Water suitable for drinking by humans must be free of these organisms to be considered safe.

Chemical components of water fall into two categories; those affecting health and those that create aesthetic or practical problems. The TCPH North Texas Regional Laboratory offers chemical analysis that includes 23 tests which can be requested individually or as a panel.

For more information about testing your water for bacteriological analysis or chemical analysis, please visit our Water Chemistry Testing page. 

Step 1 - Find the proper location.

  1. Use an outside faucet which does not leak (avoid rubber hoses, fire hydrants, and dirty areas.) Remember to take only one sample per location, per time.
  2. Flame the mouth of the faucet with a propane torch or swab the mouth of the tap with a 10% bleach solution.
  3. Run the water 2 to 3 minutes to clear the line.
  4. Adjust the flow to a slow, steady stream.

Step 2 - Sample carefully.

  1. Carefully remove the cap of the water bottle and fill to the 120 ml line located closest to the top of the bottle. IMPORTANT - Do not touch the inside of the bottle or put the bottle on the ground.  Do not overfill or underfill the bottle or the samples will be rejected
  2. After filling the bottle, replace the cap securely and put the sample in ice immediately after collection.
Step 3 - Get it to the lab in a hurry.
  1. Fill out your portion of the form completely and if you are a public water system be sure to include your PWS number.
  2. If you chlorinate, record your chlorine residual prior to collection.
  3. Make sure the lab has no reason to reject the sample before analysis. Look at the rejection criteria at the bottom of the form.
  4. IMPORTANT - Prior to mailing or carrying the sample and lab form to the lab, the sample must be placed in ice. Please make sure the form does not come in contact with melted water from the ice. (PLEASE DO NOT FREEZE SAMPLE)
  5. Your sample MUST arrive in the lab less than 24 hours from the time you take the sample.
  6. If you are a public water system, attempt to get samples to the lab as early as possible in the month.
We accept samples on Monday thru Thursday. Samples should be received in the laboratory no later than 4:00 p.m.. For an additional $ 10.00 weekend service charge, we will accept samples on Friday before 4:00 p.m.

The laboratory is closed on all legal holidays, samples are not accepted on these days or the day before the holiday. To verify holiday closings, please call the lab at 817-321-4778.

Step 4 - Know what to expect.

In 2 to 5 days after the lab tests your sample, the results will be known. You may call for a verbal result after 48 hours. To inquire about your sample, please have readily available the name written in the address window of the submission form and the exact date of submission.

The lab will then mail the results to you on the form you completed. The MMO-MUG test for total coliforms and E. coli will be performed. The words which are the key to this report are:



Escherichia coli


A positive report indicating that Total Coliform organisms and/or E. coli have been found means the water may be unsafe and the system needs to be disinfected.

A negative report indicating that Total Coliform organisms and E. coli have not been found means the water is considered bacteriologically safe to drink at the time of sampling.

Remember that other factors such as chemical composition may also affect the safety, taste, and/or appearance of the water. For information regarding chemical testing in our laboratory, please refer to the Water Chemistry Testing page.

Final Step - What to do if

UNSUITABLE FOR ANALYSIS - If the report returned to you from the lab indicates a problem with your sampling, retrace the proper steps for sampling. If you carefully follow the guidelines for proper sampling, you can avoid most reasons for an unsuitable sample.

If your report form is positive for coliform organisms, you should treat your well system with chlorine bleach, and then submit another sample for analysis. A water disinfection brochure is enclosed with all positive coliform test results. If you have questions, contact the laboratory.


Follow the proper procedure for testing: unless your sample is collected in a bottle provided by our laboratory and every precaution is taken to avoid contamination, the results of the lab analysis are without value and your drinking water may be UNSAFE.

Guidelines and Regulations concerning water sampling are set out in the State of Texas "Drinking Water Standards" and the Federal "Safe Drinking Water Act."

Colilert Culture P/A $20.00 (per sample)
Coliform Enumeration $25.00 (per sample)
Duplicate Record $  5.00 (per report)

Weekend Service Charge, Add $ 10.00
Colilert Culture P/A $30.00 (per sample)
Coliform Enumeration $35.00 (per sample)

Please retain your receipt for services with the attached cash register receipt for your records.

Any questions, please call the lab at 817-321-4778.

Content Last Modified on 5/31/2011 3:08:02 PM

Tarrant County Public Health, Main Campus
1101 S. Main Street, Fort Worth, TX 76104

Need help? Call Customer Service at 817-321-4700.

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