What's Living in Your Water?


Reduce Surface Water Related Diseases

The EPA has estimated that up to 3.5 million people per year become ill due to contact with raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows, and that ten percent of all water samples taken from American beaches exceed the protective benchmark for swimmer safety. Illnesses associated with polluted beach water include stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis.

Regulatory agencies and municipal water operators rely on total coliform tests to provide an assessment of water quality. Positive coliform detections indicate there may be fecal pollution in the water. This may be misleading because coliform tests include several fecal bacteria as well as many naturally occurring environmental bacteria not associated with fecal contamination. In addition, coliform tests are not effective in tracking the source of the contamination. They can not distinguish human-associated bacteria from things like animals or birds.

Recent Case Studies

Objective: Contamination Source Tracking

Lakes and Fresh Water Recreation

A DNA-based microbial analysis was conducted to identify and quantify microbes associated with high coliform test results on the Great Lakes, near an urban recreational beach. The traditional coliform tests were not able to determine whether the contamination was from human-associated bacteria or from other contamination sources. The DNA analyses concluded the fecal contamination was associated with birds. This provided conclusive evidence that the contamination was not from sewer overflows known to be a problem during periods of excessive rains.

Order DNA Analysis of Surface Water

DNA analysis of submitted surface water sample. Includes collection supplies, sample ID labels and pre-paid return express shipping. The DNA Analysis will be produced by a doctoral-level application expert and will include a summary of the total data, focusing on bacteria that are typically important in surface water. The full data is also provided in a spreadsheet. Data presented are bacterial relative abundance (% of total bacteria in the sample). For example 0.12% Actinobacteria means that 0.12% of bacteria in the sample are Actinobacteria. An interpretation of the results that is application specific is communicated in a detailed report by way of email. Consulting services are available for an additional fee, subject to a scope of work. Download a copy of a sample report here.

Order Online

DNA analysis of submitted surface water sample includes collection supplies and return express shipping. Save on two or more samples. Monthly subscriptions are available for 20+ samples per year. Please contact us to discuss options.

Instructions for Surface Water Sample Collection

  1. Collect representative sample in sample bottle provided. The sample bottle contains a dechlorinating tablet to remove chlorine and preserve the sample.
  2. Click here to register your sample to enter sample-associated data (i.e. water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, etc)
  3. Ship with box and return shipping label provided. Be sure sample bottle lid is securely fitted to prevent leakage during shipment.