Drinking Water Safety & Testing

View the Teton County Public Health's Environmental Health Water Lab Testing Schedule (PDF).

In 2012, 1 in 8 bacteriological drinking water tests from private homes in Teton County were unsafe.*

*Unsafe = total coliform bacteria positive

Ground Water


When rain falls to the ground, the water does not stop moving. Some of it flows along the land surface to streams or lakes, some is used by plants. Some evaporates and returns to the atmosphere. And some seeps underground, into pores between sand, clay and rock formations called aquifers. Water moves through aquifers much like a glass of water poured onto a pile of sand.

Private Well or Spring


If you have a private well or spring:
  • You should test your water routinely at least once or twice a year for bacteria. In addition you should test your water immediately after a flood, seismic activity, well maintenance, distribution system maintenance, new well construction, a change in water color, odor or taste and before real estate transactions. You should test more often if you have had a history of bad water samples.
  • Spring time is a really good time to test your water because the run off can cause surface water contamination in your well.
  • At our Teton County Environmental Health water lab we only administer bacteriological water testing. We test for Total Coliform and E coli bacteria. Additional tests to consider for safe water including testing for nitrates, heavy metals and VOCs can be obtained from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture Lab in Laramie, WY through the mail. Please call them for information: 307-742-2984.
  • Coliform bacteria are microbes found in the digestive systems of warm-blooded animals, in soil and in surface water. E coli are a subset of Coliform bacteria and are primarily found in feces of warm blooded animals. These microbes typically do not make you sick; however, because microbes that do cause disease are hard to test for in the water, Total Coliforms and E coli are tested for instead. They are not naturally found in ground water and are therefore used as an indicator organism.
  • A water sample that is positive for Total Coliforms indicates that it is very possible that harmful viruses, bacteria and parasites might also be found in the water. A positive result for E coli indicates that the water source has possibly been exposed to feces or surface water and an imminent health risk may exist. These germs can cause diarrhea, dysentery and hepatitis.
  • To avoid or eliminate microbial contamination, water systems may need to take a number of actions including repairing/upgrading the system or super-chlorinating (shocking) the well.
  • In addition to testing your water here are some other tips to protect your water supply:
    • Make sure your well has a sealed intact well cap and the visible casing is not corroded or damaged and springs should be completely sealed.
    • Keep accurate records that include all tests done as well as any well maintenance and the amount and type of chemicals used.
    • Do not dispose of any wastes in dry or abandoned wells or into septic systems. o Pump your septic system to ensure it is working correctly. Septic leach fields can contaminate drinking water wells.
    • Avoid mixing and using fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fuels and other pollutants near wells.
    • If your well is located where wildlife frequents a barrier should be located surrounding the well.

Testing


The Teton County Water lab does bacteriological drinking water testing on Mondays and Tuesdays each week to be dropped off before 2 p.m. and the fee is $18. Water test sample bottles and instructions may be picked up at the TCEH office during office hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.