UPDATE: Bacteriological Laboratory Changes for Very Small Communities

January 2016: MDH is determining the feasibility of this change and it will NOT go into effect for at least another year. Very Small Communities should continue with their process as usual. If you have questions, please call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4600.


Bacteriological Laboratory Changes for Very Small Communities

Beginning January 1, 2016, community public water systems (PWSs) serving fewer than 1,000 people will be assigned the MDH Public Health Laboratory (PHL) in St. Paul for quarterly bacteriological analyses. PWS operators should prepare for logistical changes as well as likely increases in shipping costs and sample rejections.

The MDH PHL will continue to provide sample kits, mailers, and analysis of water samples at no cost. Instructions for sample collection and mailing will be provided. PWS operators will notice a change in sample bottle volume as the PHL transitions to using 150 milliliter (mL), double-fill-line bottles (shown below). However, as before, PWSs are free to choose to use (and pay for) a private, certified laboratory instead of the PHL. In those cases, the chosen labs must have the ability to report results electronically to the MDH.
Overnight shipping will be necessary to ensure samples arrive at the PHL within 24 hours of sample collection so they can be analyzed within the required 30-hour hold time. Shipping costs will continue to be the responsibilities of PWSs. The combination of larger distances from a designated laboratory and faster shipping requirements are expected to increase shipping expenses for these community PWSs.

In addition, sample rejection rates are expected to increase due to samples not meeting the 30-hour hold time. The affected PWSs are encouraged to take the following steps to prepare for this change:

*Determine a best shipping method that can deliver samples to the MDH PHL within 30 hours.
*Thoroughly read the MDH PHL chain of custody forms and instructions upon receipt in December 2015.
*Inspect and become familiar with bottles required for MDH PHL sample collection.
*Prepare for occasional replacement samples in schedules and budgets.

Reprinted from Minnesota Department of Health Waterline newsletter, Winter 2015-2016 issue.