Detect Fecal Contamination in Surface Waters

Easy on-site testing of drinking, recreational and shellfish water sources



Surface Water Testing


Surface waters are sources of drinking water in poor and developing countries as well as in the developed world. Natural recreational water also is surface water, such as rivers, lakes, streams and salt water beaches.

Fecal contamination of surface waters can come from wastewater plants, sewage overflows, agricultural runoff, on-site septic systems, domestic and wild animal manure, storm runoff, improper boat waste disposal and ill or unsanitary swimmers.

E. coli outbreaks in fresh recreational waters are serious. County and state health departments regularly test for E. coli in fresh recreational waters to comply with regulations and avoid widespread illness. The U.S. EPA recommends E. coli as the best indicator of health risk in fresh recreational waters.

Another risk to human health is when shellfish in marine water is contaminated by fecal pathogens. Microbiological water quality standards of the U.S. National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) allows for a growing area to be classified using either a total coliforms or fecal coliforms standard.

Test Surface Waters Outside of the Lab with Aquagenx CBT Kits


The Aquagenx CBT EC+TC MPN Kit for E. coli and Total Coliforms bacteria is used around the world to test surface waters, both fresh and sea water, for a variety of purposes and applications.

Because surface waters contain higher concentrations of bacteria, we recommend using a 1:10 dilution with our Compartment Bag Test for Most Probable Number (MPN) test results. Follow the easy how-to instructions and revised MPN Table on our dilutions webpage.

E. coli is a fecal coliform. The CBT EC+TC Kit also can detect and quantify thermotolerant (fecal) coliforms instead of total coliforms, if the CBT samples are incubated at a temperature of 44.5° Celsius  (between 44-45° Celsius) throughout an incubation period of 20-24 hours. Refer to the Instructions for Use you can download on our product documentation webpage.

CBT EC+TC Kits are used by the following to test surface waters:

  • Municipal water committees, water systems and utilities, government agencies, NGOs, humanitarian aid for drinking water sources
  • Municipal and regional agencies for operational self-testing of fresh recreational waters to predict and prevent compliance issues
  • Shellfish farmers and harvesters for shellfish sanitation
  • Citizen science groups for recreational waters