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Healthy Communities

Milk and Water Testing

Milk Laboratory

The Arkansas Department of Health is authorized by state law to certify/approve industry milk laboratories and analysts for drug residue testing. The industry laboratories must follow state and FDA guidelines for drug residue testing.

For details about the milk industry laboratory, certification/approval process contact the state Laboratory Evaluation Officer at 501 661-2049 or


Water Testing

Most of the testing done in the Water Microbiology Laboratory is for regulated public water supplies. The laboratory is certified by the EPA which is required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Water Microbiology Laboratory must use the standards specified in the Act. The Safe Drinking Water Act also outlines the standards for the bacterial quality of public drinking water. The Water Microbiology Laboratory at ADH tests for total coliform bacteria and E. coli, which are the indicator organisms for bacterial contamination specified in the Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, the ADH offers laboratory certification in microbiology for public water utility laboratories that meet state and Environmental Protection Agency criteria for laboratory certification. For more information contact the Water Microbiology Laboratory at ADH at 501-661-2218 or e-mail

An additional function of the water Microbiology Laboratory is to provide water testing for private individuals. Since private water sources are not regulated the same as public water systems, we hope that the information provided will be of help to citizen who rely on private sources for their drinking water.

Additional information may be found at


Private/Well Water Testing

The laboratory also tests private drinking water samples. However, since private water sources are not regulated, there are no standards for the bacterial quality of these samples. Private citizens can only submit samples from their wells, springs, cisterns, etc. to be tested for total coliforms and E. coli, which are indicators of bacterial contamination in drinking water. Samples will not be tested for minerals, parasites, or chemicals. For these tests consult a private laboratory. If you have a public health concern (such as an illness), consult your county environmental specialist or the ADH division of engineering for assistance.

Water samples must be collected in an official ADH sample container. The sample bottle will have a white tablet or powder inside the sample bottle. This tablet is a chemical called sodium thiosulfate, which is necessary for the testing process. The tablet should not be removed from the sample bottle. In addition, the bottle should not be rinsed or wiped out.  Once the sample is collected it must be received in time to analyze it within 30 hours of collection. The laboratory accepts samples M-F 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 the front desk of the Glen Baker Public Health Laboratory. The tests done at the Public Health Laboratory help determine the safety of drinking water for human consumption. The lab does not evaluate water ponds or other bodies of water to determine if the water is safe for fish or livestock to drink or for any other purpose.

The most common reason that individuals get their private drinking water sources tested is mortgage companies often require “safe” drinking water results before closing on a home mortgage. Most mortgage companies require that testing be done in an EPA-certified laboratory. We have no EPA-certified private laboratories in Arkansas, so the testing must be done at the Water Microbiology Laboratory in Little Rock or at one of the certified municipal laboratories that provide the service.  Instructions for submitting a water sample may be found here. ( Link to submitting a water sample document)  If a completed form does not accompany the sample, another sample with a completed sample collection report will have to be submitted. The original sample must be rejected. Without a completed sample collection report, we do not have the information needed to analyze the sample.  A credit will be issued in the form of a credit letter and a new sample bottle to use to collect a new sample.

Testing of samples requires a 24 hours incubation period. Consult your public water utility or the ADH Division of Engineering if you get a report of “unsafe” on your sample.

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
© 2017 Arkansas Department of Health. All Rights Reserved.
4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867