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Agricultural Water Test Sample Drop-Off Sites in Western NY

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: August 7, 2023

Agricultural Water Test Sample Drop-Off Sites in Western NY

If you are curious about the quality of your irrigation ponds, streams, wells, or other surface water source, water testing is an important tool to consider. If your buyer wants you to get an audit and be certified under GAPs, Harmonized GAPs, or other third-party program, water testing becomes a requirement. Water testing that provides meaningful results requires a quantified generic E. coli test or an Enumeration E coli test. Some water testing labs only do a potable water test called a presence/absence test. The Enumeration test provides test results as in numbers of (bacterial) colony forming units (CFU or most probable number MPN). Having a number allows you to track the results with a comparable baseline. Each water source should be tested 3-4 times a season and do this each growing season.

Sampling should occur early in the season then again before key harvest times during the season. So, for example, if your first harvest is in late June, sample early June, then in again in early/mid-July, early/mid-August, and if there are significant crops, like leafy greens going into the fall and irrigation is still needed, then sample in mid-September. Sampling could be done after a large rain event where a lot of runoff gets into your water sources. During real dry spells, if pond levels drop a lot, test then too.

Water samples need to be kept cool and tested within 8 hours of when the sample bottle was filled. This is critical! Many counties don't have local water labs that can do these tests and getting them to other labs can mean hours on the road. One solution here in WNY comes from water test sample drop-off sites; refer to the PDF listing of locations. Specific instructions can be found along with the sample bottles at each site. Pay the fee (ranges from ~$50-$60 each), get the bottle(s), fill out the form, follow the sample instructions, and get the bottles back to the drop-off site before 9:00 am on the day of the week specific to that location. 

Water Testing Drop-Off Sites in Western NY
  • Drop-off/pick-up sites have been set up in a number of locations across the region by Lozier Environmental Consulting in Rochester. Water test sample bottles, forms, and information are available at each site. For quantitative generic E. coli water testing (farm food safety) use the Enumeration test option. There are other water tests available for farm and home: well water tests, chemical, and others. The lists can be found with the forms and bottles at the sites.
  • If you are in Ontario County, contact Nancy Anderson at the CCE Ontario County office in Canandaigua at 585.394.3977 x427. You can pick up the supplies (forms, bottles, instructions, and takes payment) at the CCE office. You will be required to take your sample(s) to a drop-off site in Canandaigua; the bottles will be picked up and delivered to Life Science Labs in Syracuse for analysis.


Agricultural Water Test Sample Drop-Off Sites in Western NY (pdf; 286KB)
  • Download the PDF for a list of locations and drop-off deadlines.


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