Bureau of Chemical and Environmental Services
Environmental (Water) Microbiology
How safe is your drinking water?
Most people take their drinking water for granted. However, a lot of effort is required to provide
clean and pure water. The UPHL environmental microbiology lab works together with water
utilities and state regulators to assure the highest quality water for you. We do this by testing for
the presence of bacteria, viruses, and parasites in your drinking water on a frequent basis.
• performs testing for bacteria on drinking water. Typically, our lab becomes involved when
a utility has already noticed that certain types of bacteria are present in the water. Then,
our special team helps them investigate by identifying the types and numbers of bacteria
that are present.
• monitors streams and reservoirs to ensure that they do not become polluted. Streams
flow into reservoirs and reservoirs become our drinking water. If someone is suspected
of polluting a stream, it can create a problem for everyone who uses water! Therefore,
we can help the Department of Environmental Quality to ensure a constant supply of
good water. In addition, clean water in the reservoirs assures that the fishing will be great
and the fish will be tasty!
checks swimming pools and recreational lakes to make sure that people do not become
ill after swimming. Summers in Utah are hot and people like to swim, and no one wants
to get sick during their vacations.
• helps local health departments, utilities, the state epidemiologist, and the Department of
Environmental Quality in the rare cases where an outbreak is suspected to be due to
water. In this case, scientists at the lab review the scientific literature to see if additional
tests can be done to assist in detecting the causes of the outbreak. Special studies can
be performed very rapidly.
• Our lab is one of only 26 laboratories in the United States certified by EPA to be able to
perform Cryptosporidia testing (EPA me