Water Quality

Water Testing

The Routt County Department of Environmental Health analyzes water from public water supplies and privately owned wells for Coliform bacteria. The goal of the lab is to reduce the potential risk of waterborne disease and illness by providing an affordable and convenient water testing service.

Testing Available

Bacteriological water test kits are available at:

  • Routt County Department of Environmental Health
    136 6th Street, Second Floor (Suite 101)
    Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
  • Ph: (970) 870-5588
  • Samples accepted Monday through Wednesday, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • $30.00 includes forms,bottle and test
  • Tests are incubated starting at 3:00pm and removed 24 hours later.  You will receive an email with your results no later than the following day.  If your sample tests positive a fact sheet will be included with your email.
  • Note we only test for Coliform and E.coli.  A more comprehensive test is available at the CSU extension
NOTE: Environmental Health accepts Checks and Credit Cards


Present throughout the soil are naturally occurring bacteria, referred to as coliforms, which may enter the water supply of individual wells. Although coliform bacteria are not pathogenic, or disease-causing, themselves, their presence may indicate that other, more difficult to detect bacteria or viruses are also present. The level of coliform bacteria in a sample is reported as "present" or "absent," rather than reporting the number of bacteria.

Unsafe Water Report

If any coliform bacteria are found in the water supply, the word "Present" will be reflected in the results section of the lab form next to Total Coliform. Any total coliform detected means the water was determined to be unsafe. These bacteria indicate that some part of the water system is subject to contamination, and the contaminants may be bacteria that could cause illness.

E.coli is a subset of Total Coliform and its presence indicates recent fecal contamination. The water should be boiled for 10 minutes or an alternate water source should be used for drinking, food preparation, and dishwashing until the water problem has been solved. Caution should also be taken not to swallow any untreated water during tooth brushing or bathing.

For More Information

How clean is that glass of water, really? Pulling and drinking water from the tap is an act that most of us do many times a day without considering the quality of the water. Sure, we become suspicious if the water causes staining, is cloudy, or if there’s a strange smell, but analysis is needed to detect most contaminates.  The CSU Extension Service offers more comprehensive water quality analysis (not just bacteria).  Just stop by the Extension Service office at 136 6th Street (downstairs from Environmental Health) to pick up a test kit.  Need help interpreting your results? 
Check out the links provided below and please don’t hesitate to call us!

Lead in Drinking Water

Lead is a naturally occurring metal which has been used in a wide variety of products including drinking water service lines and plumbing materials. Service lines are the pipes that bring water from the provider to your house. Lead service lines were common in the U.S. until the mid-1950s. 

 The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 intended to protect the quality of drinking water and ultimately banned the use of lead in pipes, solder and other plumbing materials by 1986. However, lead pipes installed previously, still exist. Lead in drinking water typically occurs because these lead-containing pipes and plumbing materials corrode over time.

Minimizing lead exposure, particularly for children, is one of the state’s public health goals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead in blood. Even at low levels, a child’s exposure to lead can be harmful. 
For more detailed information, visit the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment Lead and Health page.