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Testing Drinking Water

Water testing and treatment are expensive and inconvenient, but are necessary to ensure residents have access to a safe and reliable source of water. The cost associated with testing and treatment of public water supplies is passed along to consumers through their water bills. Individuals relying on private wells do not have this benefit and must seek testing on their own.

Current South Carolina state regulation requires that the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) be notified of any new private drinking wells before installation. Part of the permitting process includes water quality testing. Residents with established wells can also submit samples for testing to DHEC’s Private Well Program and Environmental Quality Control (EQC) Laboratories.

Residents with a public water supply cannot send samples to DHEC for testing. Public water supplies perform testing on a regular basis as required by Federal and State standards. They are required to produce an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) that contains information about the quality of the water delivered and the risks, if any, from exposure to contaminants detected in the drinking water. If you receive water from a public water supply, contact local management for water quality information. You may also contact DHEC’s Drinking Water Protection Division at 803-898-4300 if you are not provided with the information you need. If you are not satisfied with the response or have reason to believe there is a problem with the water supply, you may have a water sample tested by a commercial laboratory. Commercial laboratories charge a fee for this service. A listing of certified commercial laboratories is included at the end of this publication.

Testing of Private Drinking Water Wells

DHEC’s Private Well Program and Environmental Quality Control (EQC) Laboratories perform residential well testing for a variety of parameters for a fee. Information about types of tests and fees can be found at: http://www.scdhec.gov/Environment/WaterQuality/ResidentialWells/WellWaterTesting/

Bacteriological analysis is the most requested test as this is the primary indicator of water safety. A sample is first tested for the presence of total coliform bacteria, which are common in the environment and generally not harmful. If coliform bacteria are detected, the sample is then tested for a specific species of coliform bacteria known as Escherichia coli (E. coli), which can cause illness.

Water Testing Instructions for Bacteriological Analysis

  1. Pick up a water sample kit from any DHEC County Office. There are four regional EQC offices but additional offices are located in each region. Contact your local EQC office for additional location information.
  2. Remove any strainers or aerators from the faucet. Rub the outside of the faucet with rubbing alcohol or bleach. Allow the water to run for four to five minutes.
  3. Without changing the flow from the faucet, remove the cap from the sample bottle and fill the bottle to about one inch from the top. Don’t touch the inside of the bottle or cap, or let the water splash from your hands into the bottle. Replace the cap.
  4. Fill out all of the information on the sample form that applies to you. You must complete your name, mailing address, daytime telephone number, and the date and time the sample was collected.
  5. Take the sample to your county health department or EQC office immediately. Samples must be received by the laboratory within 30 hours of collection. DHEC accepts samples on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.

You will receive the results in the mail about 10-15 days with an explanation of the results and an invoice for $20. If E. coli is detected, disinfection can clear the problem. More information about residential well disinfection can be found at: http://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-003247.pdf

Water Testing Instructions for Chemical Analysis

If you are experiencing problems such as: taste or smell of your water, staining of laundry, or plumbing fixtures, or are considering installing a water treatment system, you might want to have a minerals and metals analysis, which is the other common analysis conducted for residential well water. The parameters tested include: Chloride, Nitrate/Nitrite, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Lead, Zinc, Alkalinity, and pH. A DHEC provided container should be used for collecting your sample. These can be obtained from your local health department. Once your sample has been collected, take it to your local DHEC office and complete Form 1905. You will receive your results in about six to eight weeks along with an invoice for $50 and a booklet explaining the results.

Additional Resources

Commercial Laboratories for Total Coliform/E. Coli (as of April 2015)

Lab Name/Address Director Name/Phone Number
Access Analytical Inc. Hampton
303 First St. W
Hampton SC 29934
Douglas James
803-914-0006
Access Analytical Inc. Irmo

7478 Carlisle St

Irmo SC 29063

Amick, Ashley B

803-454-8983

Access Analytical Inc Lexington

200 Rich Lex Dr
Lexington SC 29072-9274

Boyd, Bryant

803-939-4983

Aquatic Analytics LLC

1180 Drop Off Dr Ste 101

Summerville SC 29483-7233

Miller, Samantha

843-471-1933

Blackman Laboratory Inc Hartsville
953 N Rolling Rd
Hartsville SC 29550-7765
Brand, Shelly

843-332-2973

Data Resources Greenville

2320 E North St Ste D
Greenville SC 29607

Watt, Bruce E

803-561-0331

Davis & Brown

PO Box 15038

Quinby SC 29506

Ward, William V

843-665-6746

Gel Laboratories Llc Greenville

111 Smith Hines Rd Ste J
Greenville SC 29607-5745

Bocklet, Carey J

864-676-2202

General Environmental Laboratories Inc

PO Box 21866

Hilton Head SC 29925

Patel, Sheila

843-208-2006

Goldie & Associates Inc

210 W North 2nd St
Seneca SC 29678-3235

Day, Ben S

864-882-8194

James H Carr & Associates Inc

PO Box 90209

Columbia SC 29290-0209

Carr, James H

803-776-7789

JG Environmental Inc

7776 Flat Rock Rd
Kershaw SC 29067

Gardner, Rick

803-475-6570

L&L Environmental Ware Shoals

PO Box 359

Ware Shoals SC 29692

Pulley, Brian J

864-456-2696

Pace Analytical Services Inc Greenwood
816 Durst Ave EGreenwood SC 29649-2908
Grogan, Felicia
864-229-4413
Rogers & Callcott Columbia
PO Box 5655Greenville SC 29606
Avery, Sam
866-805-9596
Rogers & Callcott Engineers Inc
PO Box 5655Greenville SC 29606
Avery, Sam
866-805-9596
Shealy Environmental Services Inc
106 Vantage Point DrWest Columbia SC 29172
Wright, Dan
803-791-9700
Southeastern Environmental LLC
4458 Augusta Rd Ste 2bLexington SC 29073-7570
Kates, Jack W
803-359-8378
Texidyne Inc
PO Box 1646Clemson SC 29633
Goodman, Grant
864-639-6207
Trident Labs Services Inc
9104 Canvas LnLadson SC 29456
Lewis, Melinda
843-871-4999

 

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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