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Southern Nevada Water Authority

Water Quality Lab

Water Quality Lab

Water quality monitoring staff collect
samples from the lake to tap.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Water Quality Laboratory and Applied Research & Development Center houses one of the most sophisticated municipal water quality laboratory complexes in the world. Its main goal is to verify that water delivered to Southern Nevada's municipal customers meets the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

It's not enough to test the water at the treatment plant. The laboratory water quality monitoring staff collects samples from the lake to the tap. We take samples from the following sources:

  • Neighborhood sampling stations
  • Lake Mead
  • Groundwater wells, reservoirs and other locations

Biological Contaminants

The Microbiology Laboratory focuses on biological contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses and algae. Lake Mead, like most water sources, is a living ecosystem of which these microorganisms are a natural part. The Microbiology Lab staff ensures that these potentially harmful organisms aren't present in the treated water supply. Our microbiologists go beyond state and federal monitoring requirements to look for potentially harmful organisms, maximizing protections for our customers.

Chemical Contaminants

The Chemistry Laboratory has three areas of specialty:

  1. Metals: Acceptable concentrations of metals, such as lead, copper and arsenic are strictly limited by state and federal law.
  2. Organic compounds: These include potential chemicals such as methyl tertiary butyl ether—the gasoline additive commonly known as MTBE—and common household compounds such as paint solvent.
  3. Inorganic compounds: Substances such as perchlorate, phosphates and nitrate are tracked.

Certified Accuracy

The SNWA Laboratories are certified by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. Additionally, the Microbiology Laboratory is among the few municipal facilities certified by the Environmental Protection Agency for cryptosporidium and giardia detection. Staff members are constantly reviewing drinking water regulations to anticipate changes to contaminant limits, testing requirements and analytical methods.

The Science Behind Your Drinking Water

Municipal water quality is far better than it was a half century ago, when few gave water quality any thought. Improved treatment methods such as ozone and ultraviolet disinfection have dramatically reduced the number of waterborne pathogens, reducing water related illness.

Pollution controls have become increasingly stringent during the past three decades, reducing the amount of contaminants that make their way into water supplies. Scientists' ability to detect contaminants at remarkably low concentrations has changed the way customers define "water quality."

From comprehensive water quality testing programs to innovative projects designed to explore new treatment technologies, we are committed to improving both water quality and water-treatment methods.

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