Detect Fecal Contamination in Surface Waters

Simple field tests for drinking, recreational and shellfish waters



Testing Surface Waters for Quality


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.

Surface Water Test Kits for Field Testing


The Aquagenx CBT EC+TC MPN Kit and GEL EC CFU Kits are 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 a simple 1:10 dilution of the 100 mL sample for each test.

Dilutions Guidance CBT EC+TC MPN Kit

Dilutions Guidance GEL EC CFU Kit

Aquagenx test 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