Private, Residential, Homeowner Testing

In Ohio, an estimated 1.5 million people receive their drinking water from ground or surface water resources through private water systems such as wells, springs, ponds, rain water cisterns, and hauled water.  As a private well owner, you are responsible for testing your well to ensure that your water is safe to drink.  It is recommended that private water system owners test a few parameters such as total coliform bacteria, E. coli, nitrates and arsenic on a regular basis to maintain a record of water quality and identify any changes to the system. For information on testing recommendations for your well water, visit the EPA’s Drinking Water’s Well Testing page.

The SCPH laboratory offers a variety of low cost drinking water testing services, including tests for bacteria, lead, copper, arsenic, and nitrate/nitrite.  All homeowner samples are $10 per test.  We also offer arsenic testing free of charge (with other metals testing) to Summit County residents.

Upon completion of each analysis, homeowners receive a full report along with an interpretation of their test results.  Our staff is available to provide an unbiased assessment of your water quality and to provide further information on available references and treatment options.  Homeowners that have questions or concerns about the quality of their drinking water are welcome to contact the Water Quality Division for professional advice.

 

Microbiological Testing

What is coliform?  Total coliform bacteria are a collection of relatively harmless microorganisms that live in large numbers in soils, plants and in the intestines of warm-blooded (humans) and cold-blooded animals. Coliforms aid in the digestion of food.

Can coliform harm your health?  Finding coliform or other bacteria in water does not necessarily always mean you will become ill. However, if these organisms are present, other disease-causing organisms may also be present. The presence of fecal contamination is a sign that a possible health risk exists for individuals exposed to this water. Health symptoms related to drinking or swallowing water contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria generally range from no ill effects to cramps and diarrhea (gastrointestinal distress). Sanitarians and those who test water look for total and fecal coliform bacteria to alert people to the possible dangers and suggest proper treatments to remove potentially harmful bacteria from the water. The presence of any fecal coliform in drinking water is of immediate concern as many diseases can be spread through fecal transmission.

How can you reduce coliform contamination?  Groundwater (underground drinking water) in a properly constructed well should have minimal-to-no coliform bacteria. If coliform are found in a well it generally means bacterial and mineral slimes have built up and your well needs to be professionally cleaned by a registered private water system contractor. Homeowners who use cisterns, springs or ponds as a drinking water source should use treatment devices to disinfect and filter the water to remove coliform bacteria. The presence of total coliform in a water sample means the disinfection system is not working properly.  Improperly maintained treatment devices can be sources of contamination. Home water filters and other water-treatment devices should be changed and maintained in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.

How can I test my water for coliform?  Summit County Public Health (SCPH) is offering low cost analysis of water collected by residents. You can sample your own water for coliform bacteria with a test kit that you can obtain from SCPH. The kit includes instructions on collecting the water, a sterile sample bottle and guidance for returning the sample to SCPH. Sample kits may be picked up at our office address below and are also available at many township, village and city offices.

To have your water tested for bacteria: Obtain a sample kit from our Fairway Center Location (or from a sample kit location close to you).  Follow the instructions included with the kit.  Return your sample with the completed paperwork and the $10 fee to our office, located at:

Summit County Public Health, Building C, 1867 West Market Street, Akron OH 44313

 

Chemical Testing

How can I test my water for chemical contaminants?  Summit County Public Health (SCPH) is offering low cost analysis of water collected by residents. You can sample your own water for lead, copper, arsenic, and nitrate/nitrite with a test kit that you can obtain from SCPH. The kit includes instructions on collecting the water, sample bottles and guidance for returning the sample to SCPH. Sample kits may be picked up at our office address below.

To have your water tested for Nitrate, Nitrite, Lead, Copper, and/or Arsenic:  Obtain a sample kit from our Fairway Center location or contact the SCPH laboratory manager at (330) 926-5600 weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to make arrangements for pick-up. Or you can drop off sampling kits for chemical analysis free of charge.  Follow the instructions included with the kit.  Return your sample with the completed paperwork and the appropriate fee to our office, located at:

Summit County Public Health, Building C, 1867 West Market Street, Akron OH 44313

 

Additional Resources