Grays Harbor County



Office Hours:
8:00 am - Noon,
1:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Environmental Health E-Mail

Environmental Health Jeff Nelson, R.S. Director
100 W Broadway, Suite 31
Montesano, WA 98563-3614
(360) 249-4222
(360) 249-3203 Fax

Safety and quality of drinkable water.



Water Lab Closures

Grays Harbor County Drinking Water Laboratory we will be closed and not accepting any samples on the following dates:
    January 1st, 2015 - June 30th, 2015 Closures
  January 1, 2015
  January 19, 2015
  February 16, 2015
  May 25, 2015
Samples will not be accepted on the dates indicated above.

We apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at (360) 249-4222, or e-mail

Eric Khambatta, R.S.
Environmental Health Specialist III
Water Lab Manager


Directions For Disinfecting contaminated wells and new wells       Water Sample Collection and Analysis Request

Grays Harbor County Division of Environmental Health offers two locations where water samples may be submitted for your convenience. Water sample bottles are available from the reception desk at The Grays Harbor County Public Services Desk; third floor of the Administration Building, 100 W Broadway, Suite 31, Montesano and can be dropped off Monday-Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm, Thursday: 8am-3pm.

Water Sample bottles can also be obtained from Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services Office, Main Reception, 2109 Sumner Ave Aberdeen and dropped off Tuesday: 8am-3pm; Office closed 12pm – 1pm daily. Call for availability during holidays.


***GHPH&SS will no longer be accepting any money for samples, so unless your system has an account already set up you must pay $23 in Montesano prior to submittal.***

Each sample has a fee of $23, which must be paid when the sample bottle is obtained unless an account has been set up for billing. Samples must be collected and submitted on the same day. Water samples CANNOT be tested if they are over 30 hours old.

Samples can ONLY be accepted in the bottles provided by the Environmental Health Division since they contain chemicals necessary for testing. All other containers will be refused for testing.

If you have questions regarding water sampling, please feel free to contact Eric Khambatta at one of the above numbers.

What are coliform bacteria?
Coliform bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans. Coliform bacteria will not likely cause illness. However, their presence in drinking water indicates that disease-causing organisms (pathogens) could be in the water system. Most pathogens that can contaminate water supplies come from the feces of humans or animals. Testing drinking water for all possible pathogens is complex, time-consuming, and expensive. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to test for coliform bacteria. If coliform bacteria are found in a water sample, water system operators work to find the source of contamination and restore safe drinking water. There are three different groups of coliform bacteria; each has a different level of risk.

Total coliform, fecal coliform, and E. coli
Total coliform, fecal coliform, and E. coli are all indicators of drinking water quality. The total coliform group is a large collection of different kinds of bacteria. Fecal coliforms are types of total coliform that mostly exist in feces. E. coli is a sub-group of fecal coliform. When a water sample is sent to a lab, it is tested for total coliform. If total coliform is present, the sample will also be tested for eitherfecal coliform or E. coli, depending on the lab testing method.

Total Coliform Fecal

Total coliform bacteria are commonly found in the environment (e.g., soil or vegetation) and are generally harmless. If only total coliform bacteria are detected in drinking water, the source is probably environmental. Fecal contamination is not likely. However, if environmental contamination can enter the system, there may also be a way for pathogens to enter the system. Therefore, it is important to find the source and resolve the problem.

Fecal coliform bacteria are a sub-group of total coliform bacteria. They appear in great quantities in the intestines and feces of people and animals. The presence of fecal coliform in a drinking water sample often indicates recent fecal contamination » meaning that there is a greater risk that pathogens are present than if only total coliform bacteria is detected.

E. coli
is a sub-group of the fecal coliform group. Most E. coli bacteria are harmless and are found in great quantities in the intestines of people and warm-blooded animals. Some strains, however, can cause illness. The presence of E. coli in a drinking water sample almost always indicates recent fecal contamination » meaning there is a greater risk that pathogens are present.

A note about E. coli: E. coli outbreaks receive much media coverage. Most outbreaks have been caused by a specific strain of E. coli bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7. When a drinking water sample is reported as "E. coli present" it does not mean that this dangerous strain is present and in fact, it is probably not present. However, it does indicate recent fecal contamination. Boiling or treating contaminated drinking water with a disinfectant destroys all forms of E. coli, including O157:H7.