On Site Data
We take measurements of temperature, electrical conductivity and, when possible, water flow rate. Electrical conductivity is a measurement of the total number of ions dissolved in the water. We collect samples in acid washed high density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles for lab analysis.
Using an ion chromatograph at Ithaca College, we can measure the anions chloride, fluoride, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, and sulfate. We follow an EPA-approved method (Method 300.1). Some samples are analyzed for dissolved metals using the inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer at Cornell University.
While most coliform bacteria do not pose a threat to human health, their presence may indicate the presence of disease causing pathogens. A good explanation of coliform bacteria in drink water is published by the state of Washington here.
Samples are screened for the presence of total coliform bacteria using Lamotte test kits. If a location tests positive for total coliform, we then conduct a quantitative analysis for fecal coliform bacteria using the EPA approved Membrane Filtration Technique (US EPA SW-846 Test Method 9132). One to two liters of water are collected and kept on ice during transportation until being processed. Samples are processed within 24 hours of collection. After the incubation period, fecal coliform colonies are counted and reported as colony forming units per 100mL.
If a sample shows elevated nitrate, this may be a sign of contamination from agricultural runoff. We use a screening test for atrazine, a common pesticide, using test strips from Abraxis that determine if the sample is at or below the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level for atrazine (3 ppb) and simazine (4 ppb). The test strips are used onsite.