Water testing laboratories provide an array of analytical services to evaluate compliance with both federal and state water quality standards (WQS). The Clean Water Act, which the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees, stipulates water quality criteria for both drinking water and wastewater. States have similar WQS for drinking water and wastewater. Since municipalities typically handle wastewater testing, homeowners and businesses frequently enlist water quality testing labs to analyze drinking water.
Measure the usefulness and quality of any water testing lab by evaluating how many EPA or state water analysis criteria the lab assesses. For drinking water, make sure the water testing lab analyzes all the chemicals and other human health criteria the EPA mandates. Consider only the water testing companies that test and analyze for the established criteria, whether drinking water or wastewater. As you consider using water testing laboratories, keep these factors in mind:
1. Determine what certifications, accreditations and proficiencies the water testing laboratory possesses on both state and federal levels.
2. Ascertain how many EPA water analysis criteria the water testing companies measure.
3. Evaluate the data validation and reporting capabilities of the water test labs.
Refer to EPA and state lists of certified water testing laboratoriesThe EPA works closely with each state to implement clean water standards. Each state water quality certification officer in turn readily provides the names and contact information of certified water quality testing services, both in the state or outside of it.
EPA has an index cataloging each state's certified laboratories for testing water. DMOZ, an online open directory project, keeps an active, ongoing list of water quality testing labs.
Use state lists to find water testing company certifications and analytical parametersWhen you reach a lab, ask about analysis turnaround times, quality assurance/quality control and corrective action methods. In some cases, you may need to go outside your state to get the water analysis services you need.
Arizona updates its list of commercial drinking water testing laboratories every 24 hours. North Carolina lets website visitors query by contaminant types for certified water testing labs.
Find laboratories for testing water that have accreditation from national organizationsThe NELAC Institute (TNI) monitors performance of water testing laboratories via a national accreditation program. TNI, which evolved from the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC), reviews laboratory procedures and standards for its accreditation program, which goes beyond state certification. Founded in 1937, the American Council of Independent Laboratories (ACIL) defines standards of conduct for member laboratories and allied organizations.
NELAC sorts lists of accredited labs with notations on water testing labs. ACIL has a laboratory referral service with descriptive paragraphs and direct online links to water testing laboratories.
- Contact a client service representative and arrange for a virtual or in-person tour of the candidate water testing laboratories you are considering.