Testing Surface/Recreational Water

Testing Surface/Recreational WaterBacterial indicators are enumerated in surface/recreational waters to assess the presence and level of fecal contamination and thus determine the potential for disease. Total Coliforms and E. Coli are widely used in regulatory monitoring of surface waters. E. Coli is specific to fecal sources and is therefore recommended as the main indicator of fecal pollution. E. Coli is present in extremely large numbers in the feces of all mammals, and does not multiply appreciably in the environment outside of its host. The presence of E. Coli in water indicates that fecal contamination from humans or other warm-blooded animals has occurred. If levels of E. Coli, in surface waters are found to be greater than guideline levels, it is probable that pathogenic organisms are also present.

Health Implications from Swimming in Bacterially Contaminated Water

Swimming in bacterially contaminated waters could result in gastro-intestinal symptoms, eye infections, skin complaints, ear, nose and throat infections and respiratory illness.

Guidelines for Recreational Water
Government established guidelines for recreational water is:

1000 cfu’s Total Coliform / 100 ml sample
100 cfu’s E. Coli / 100 ml water sample.


Coliplate is a convenient test for quantitative measure of total coliforms and E. Coli bacteria. The test is designed to meet regulatory guidelines for surface water used for recreational purposes. The Coliplate test quantifies density of target indicator bacteria, total coliforms and E. Coli, thus determining the safety of water for swimming.

Benefits of using Coliplate:

Simple to use:

  • Simple and user-friendly
  • May be used by inexperienced/non-technical individuals
  • No repeat testing due to clogged filters or heterotrophic interference (commonly experienced when using the traditional membrane filtration method)
  • No laboratory facilities required
  • No sample dilution required
  • No confirmations required


  • On-site testing reduces time required for transportation of samples
  • Detects Total Coliform and E. Coli simultaneously in 24 hours


  • At least 30% less expensive than traditional methods
  • Minimal equipment required
  • Long shelf life of 3-5 years


  • Selective and sensitive media specifically identifying E. Coli
  • Detects cfu's ranging from 3 to 2, 500 per 100 ml without dilution
  • Eliminates the subjective interpretation found in traditional methods

**Please see Coliplate page for more information on this product.

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