Frequently Asked Questions – Total Coliform

Total Coliform FAQ’s

Request For Water/Waste Water Analysis
Requisition Form with descriptionsThe New York State Department of Health is collaborating with Capital Region Environmental Lab to collect private well sampling results from volunteers. You can opt-in by checking the “share results” box on the chain of custody. By doing so, you’ll be helping to improve our understanding of New York’s water quality. There are no state requirements to change your well based on the sampling results. All results will be kept confidential. For more information on maintaining your well, please visit

  • What is total coliform?

    Coliform is a bacteria group that encompasses several types of bacteria found in the digestive tracts and waste of animals and humans. Total coliform refers to the total overall number of all types of coliform bacteria in the water.

  • Why should I test for total coliform?

    Coliform bacteria are not generally harmful to humans. However, coliform are considered a strong indicator for the presence of harmful bacteria and organisms in the water. The CDC and other health organizations consider coliform testing to be the basic condition for the safety of drinking water.

  • How can I tell if there is coliform in my drinking water?

    The only way to tell if there are dangerous levels of coliform bacteria in drinking water is to have your water tested. If anyone in your home is having gastrointestinal or related health problems, consider testing.

  • How often should I test for total coliform?

    Testing for total coliform is required for most businesses and municipalities on a routine basis. The New York State Department of Health recommends annual testing for total coliform for private wells. If anyone in your home is having gastrointestinal or related health problems, consider testing.

  • Does my area have problems with total coliform?

    If you have concerns over the water in your area, contact your local Department of Health for more information.

  • I am a new home owner. Should I test for total coliform?

    Part of the loan process for buying a home usually includes having the water tested. If no such test occurred, it is recommended to test for total coliform. 

  • What do my test results for total coliform mean?

    A negative test for total coliform and E. coli indicates that the water is safe to consume. A positive test for total coliform and/or E. coli is indicative of contamination. A positive test result can be caused by many factors including a dirty tap, poor sample collection procedures, well problems such as a bad cap or seal or cracked casing. If the test result is positive for both total coliform and E. coli, raw sewage contamination is present. Capital Region Environmental Laboratory reports quantitative test results for total coliform and qualitative E. coli results. Low quantitative test results may be indicative of poor sampling techniques or a dirty tap. Repeat sampling using a more stringent disinfection procedure or another tap might be suggested. Any water sample containing total coliform and/or E. coli should not be used for drinking unless boiling the water before consuming. Public water supplies that receive a positive test for total coliform and/or E. coli are required to contact their local Department of Health. Private homeowners are suggested to take corrective actions such as disinfecting the well and/or contacting a local well drilling or water conditioning company to discuss corrective actions or treatment options.

  • E. coli & Total/Fecal Coliform FAQ's

    Check the below FAQ’s for topic-specific Questions/Answers

    E. Coli

    Fecal Coliform

    Total Coliform

Please contact us for any questions you may have and we will return your request within 24 hours. Alternatively, you may call us at 518-365-5812

Moving into the future we will be offering services and online tools to further facilitate working together! We are integrating seamless online ordering and sample tracking, with a results portal for online viewing. We will continue offering our previous testing suite, along with personalized customer interactions, but removing all the process friction which will speed time for getting results to you and your customers.

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