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Water Sampling Requirements

Although groundwater is typically a safe source of drinking water and actual events of drinking water contamination are rare, contaminants can enter the drinking water supply if any of the protective barriers are breeched. Heightened public awareness, concern for public health, and advancements of technology are factors behind legislative action to set national standards regarding the levels of contaminants in drinking water. 

Water quality monitoring has an important role in identifying breeches in the system that may threaten safe and aesthetically pleasing water, however, it is important to understand that a water sample is a very small part of the total water supply and not a protective barrier.  

There are potentially thousands of different contaminants that could find their way into drinking water systems that may be harmful to health. It is impractical to attempt to test for all possible contaminants. Priorities for testing are determined, in general, based on national occurrence data, health effects and technology.  

Sampling requirements are tied to population served, source of water, and results of the sanitary survey. 

Total Coliform Monitoring

Systems that serve more than 1,000 persons per day must sample monthly.

Systems that serve less than 1,000 persons per day must sample quarterly unless on a reduced frequency as prescribed by the local health department.  

Nitrate Monitoring

Annual sampling required for all systems unless results indicate a heightened level and increased monitoring in prescribed by the local health department.  

Chemical Monitoring for Nontransient Systems 

Each system is evaluated and put on a monitoring cycle prescribed by the local health department. The table below shows the minimum sampling required by the Safe Drinking Water Act, Act 399, 1978 as amended.

Analyses

3 Year Cycle
2011-2013

3 Year Cycle
2014-2016

3 Year Cycle
2017-2019

3 Year Cycle
2020-2022

3 Year Cycle
2023-2025

3 Year Cycle
2026-2028

Analytical Cost4

VOC1

One every 6 years

One every 6 years

One every 6 years

$100

SOC1

One every 6 years

One every 6 years

One every 6 years

$365

Metals2

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

$102

Cyanide5

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

One every
3 years

$25

Arsenic5

Quarterly for one year

One every 3 years

One every 3 years

$25

Lead &
Copper3

6 mo.

6 mo.

1 yr.

1 yr.

One
every 3
years

One
every 3
years

One
every 3
years

One
every 3
years

One
every 3
years

$26

  1. Volatile/Synthetic Organic Chemicals (VOC/SOC) - a waiver based on no detects and low vulnerability allows 1 per 6 year reduction, otherwise, quarterly sampling and additional parameters are required.  Contact your local health department or the DEQ.
  2. Metals and Cyanide - 1 sample every 3 years, then can be reduced to 1 sample every 9 years if below maximum containment level.
  3. Lead / Copper - Initial samples for consecutive 6th month periods, then can be reduced to annual if below action level, then 1 per 3 years.  They can go directly to sampling every 3 years, if initial copper samples are less than 0.65 and initial lead samples are less than 0.005.
  4. DEQ Laboratory analytical cost per sample, subject to change.  You may use any certified drinking water laboratory.
  5. Arsenic - Initial sample must be less than 5ppb.  If not, quarterly sampling for one year then can be reduced to 1 sample every 3 years if below maximum containment level. 

Important Links

Sampling Factsheets

These factsheets describe how to collect a drinking water sample:

Bacteria
Nitrate
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
Synthetic Organic Compound (SOC)
Metals & Cyanide
Lead/Copper
Contigency Plan Worksheet 

DEQ Laboratory Codes

DEQ Lab Testing Fee Schedule & Bottle Requisition
Monitoring Schedule & Test Codes 

Brochures

Owner's Guide
Coliform Contamination & Prevention
Arsenic in Drinking Water
Monitoring Requirements & Maximum Contamination Levels
Understanding Lead/Copper Sampling Requirements
Understanding Bacteria Sampling Requirements
Sanitary Surveys 

Related Content
 •  Revised Total Coliform Rule
 •  Well Construction Code (Part 127 of Act 368) PDF icon
 •  Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool
 •  Installing Treatment
 •  Current Drinking Water Standards
 •  Administrative Fines
 •  Cross Connection Rules Manual - Fourth Edition PDF icon
 •  Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (Act 399, P.A. 1976) PDF icon
 •  School & Day Care Reporting Requirements
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