Water Lab
La Plata County Public Health Department's Water Lab provides water testing to determine the absence or presence of Total Coliform and E. Coli bacteria. The Water Lab also provides wastewater testing for public wastewater systems.

Samples are accepted Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 4 pm. Samples are not accepted on Fridays. Obtain a sample kit from our front desk prior to testing; do not collect a sample in your own container.

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Water Lab And Water Quality
La Plata County Public Health encourages everyone who relies on a private well for their drinking water supply to test their water annually for bacteria contamination. A test bottle and requisition form may be obtained from the front desk. The cost of this test is $27.50 and results are usually provided within 24 hours. The sample must be received and tested within 30 hours of collection. As such, the Water Lab cannot receive samples on Friday. Samples are accepted Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 4 pm only.

Directions for taking samples:

  • Use only bottles issued from Public Health for taking samples. No others will be accepted.
  • Samples from faucet: use a non-aerated tap and first allow water to run freely for five minutes. Samples from hand pump: pump well for 5 minutes.
  • Do not rinse bottle. Substance in bottle preserves water in a state suitable for test.
  • Fill bottle within one inch of bottle top. Replace lid immediately. Do not touch inside of lid or bottle.
  • Do not collect sample from a swinging faucet nor from one with a strainer or aerator.

In order to be notified with test results, the requisition form must include applicable contact information.
The water lab performs basic water chemistry testing for public wastewater systems and for purposes of permitting some commercial On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems.

For a current list of wastewater services and pricing, see the environmental health fee schedule posted below. Additional testing services may be performed by special arrangement between the customer, the water lab, and the Laboratory Services Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; shipping and handling charges may apply.
About Private Well Testing

The Water Quality Interpretation Tool easily checks water quality testing results against state and national standards

Because of our local geology, a small but significant percentage of wells throughout La Plata County have issues with contamination from metals and other minerals. Because the federal Safe Drinking Water Act does not apply to private wells, the responsibility of ensuring that water from a private well is safe is the responsibility of the well owner.

The State of Colorado recommends that every private well used for drinking water be tested once per year by a certified laboratory. Most of these tests involve the well user collecting a sample at a non-aerated, non-swiveling tap (like a bathtub) in lab-provided containers and mailing them to a laboratory for testing.

The state also recommends that wells with no history of testing, and wells that are very old, be inspected visually to ensure that construction is sound and that the surface around the well is kept clear of possible contaminating substances.

Test Frequency

There is no "standard suite" of potential contaminants nor "standard annual test" for drinking water wells. Many laboratories offer a package that they recommend for annual testing, but these may differ from company to company. At a minimum, most wells should be tested annually for nitrate, nitrite, and coliform bacteria. You should also test for anything that shows up as elevated in any tests performed historically.

If you have never tested your well before, or if its history is unclear, consider ordering a package that also includes arsenic, lead, fluoride, hardness, iron, manganese, pH, and total dissolved solids. Previous testing suggests that in certain areas of southwest Colorado, including the Pine River Valley and the mesa tops between Durango and Bayfield, it may be a good idea to test for fluoride in your well annually.

Certified Labs

Click "Analyte/Compound Name" to filter this list to include only the laboratories certified to test for the substance you are interested in.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the United States Geological Survey conduct monitoring of the Animas River at multiple locations as needed to ensure public safety. This includes real-time monitoring of river conditions, regular sample collection at multiple locations throughout the year, and responding to changes in river water quality to protect agriculture, municipal use, and recreation. While other rivers in our counties do not have real-time water quality monitoring, CDPHE collects samples regularly on all major rivers in Colorado.

To report a spill, whether or not it reaches a major waterway: call 877-518-5608, available 24 hours a day.

River Users

La Plata County Public Health reminds river users:

  • It is always good public health practice to wash with soap and water after exposure to untreated river water or sediment.
  • Closely supervise your children to ensure they don't ingest large amounts of river water or sediment.
  • Be sure to always properly treat water from any river or stream before using it for consumption.