The state health department ensures public health for the citizens and guests of the state of Missouri by providing information regarding private water and private water supplies as well as private water testing to homeowners and local public health agencies.
The department offers technical assistance to homeowners and local health agencies regarding water sample results, health issues and water treatment; and regulates private water supplies of lodging, daycare, and food establishments. Water testing of these establishments is performed on a regular schedule to ensure these water supplies meet drinking water standards for safe water.
Private Drinking Water Testing
Private drinking water testing (private wells or other drinking water sources) can be tested through the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory. The local health department sanitarian can provide the kit and test the water for bacteria.
Private Drinking Water Testing:
The MSPHL can test for three different types of bacteria in private water samples. Routine samples are tested for coliform, E. coli bacteria, and iron bacteria at special request.
Coliform bacteria occur naturally in soil, on vegetation, and in surface waters such as lakes or streams. They also can be found in the intestines of humans and other animals. The majority of the coliform bacteria are not harmful and are used as an “indicator bacteria” in drinking water. If present, contamination of the water has occurred, and other disease causing bacteria may also have gotten into the water supply.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a member of the coliform group of bacteria and is found only in humans and warm-blooded animals. E. coli in the drinking water indicates that it has been recently contaminated with human or animal wastes.
When testing for these bacteria, the MSPHL tests for presence/absence only, not a specific count.
Other tests for specific waterborne pathogens (bacteria) may be available by special request.
Public Drinking Water Testing
Public drinking water supplies are tested for bacteria on a monthly basis for Total Coliform and E. coli bacteria to comply with the State and US Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act. The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory (MSPHL), US EPA certified laboratory # MO 00003, and its Southeastern Branch Lab in Poplar Bluff, US EPA certified laboratory # MO 00071, test approximately 60,000 public water samples annually. These services are provided as part of an interagency agreement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MO DNR).