Water testing allows for ongoing monitoring of water quality regardless of the presence of oil and gas operations, and there are many facilities that provide testing services. However, the use of the results dictates which kind of facility is the most appropriate.
Accredited Commercial Laboratories: Laboratory accreditation may come from the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) or from a state agency, depending on the state and the laboratory. A best practice is to search for a local water testing laboratory accredited under one of these programs.
Some regulatory agencies maintain their own in-house laboratories for testing water samples. Many regulatory agencies also have accreditation programs for commercial laboratories operating in their state.
Several state and county health departments maintain accredited laboratories for testing water samples. Depending on the department, these may only be able to test for health-related concerns.
Home Test Kits
Unaccredited at-home tests can sometimes provide valuable information but are not admissible in any legal or official setting.
Each kind of testing has different barriers and obstacles. The at-home test, while affordable, is typically inadmissible in a formal investigation of water quality. Commercial, accredited tests carry high expenses and may not be available in all areas. Another barrier to understanding testing results or to forming an actionable plan after receiving the results of a test is the difficulty of interpreting results. Many testing entities and regulatory agencies are hesitant or unable to provide assistance with interpretation to mitigate liability and risk.
Images: “Water Test Results” by science photo via Shutterstock