Public drinking water is routinely tested for E. coli and total coliforms (bacterial contamination indicators) by the Arkansas Department of Health – Environmental Health, which may also perform water quality tests for pesticides, herbicides, metals and other contaminants.
Private drinking water from wells, springs, etc. can be tested for E. coli and total coliforms with a $17 kit available at a local Arkansas Department of Health unit – (800) 462-0599 (visit link or call for detailed instructions including location & times – they can also take the water sample for you). To reduce false results, the water sample must be taken with uncontaminated pipes & equipment by safely shocking (15 minutes with a 10:1 solution of fresh household bleach) followed by thorough flushing with clean water. WARNING: bleach is caustic – can damage pipes, equipment and flesh – follow instructions carefully and wear protective goggles & clothing.
For additional water quality tests, contact CFCW or a private testing laboratory. Tests can be customized for different contaminants. For example, a test for 103 different contaminants costs us $230 (includes shipping and handling) and covers:
- Inorganic Analytes – Metals: aluminum, arsenic, barium, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nickel, potassium, selenium, silica, silver, sodium and zinc.
- Inorganic Analytes – Other: chloride, fluoride, nitrate as N, ortho phosphate, sulfate.
- Microbiologicals: coliform and E. coli.
- Organic Analytes – Trihalomethanes: bromodichloromethane, bromoform, chloroform, dibromochloromethane, total THMs.
- Organic Analytes – Volatiles and Others: there are 67 of these which are tested for.
- Physical Factors: alkalinity, hardness, pH, total dissolved solids, turbidity.