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Coliform Sampling

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There are a variety of bacteria, parasites, and viruses which can cause health problems when humans ingest them in drinking water. Testing water for each of these germs would be difficult and expensive. Instead, water quality and public health workers measure for the presence of bacteria in drinking water using coliform bacteria as an indicator. The presence of any coliforms in drinking water suggests that there may be disease-causing agents in the water.

We have 499 resources (and counting) on Total Coliform in our Documents Database that provide valuable information on this topic. You can search for documents on potential pathways for coliform contamination, coliform bacteria and well water sampling, best practices for coliform sampling, and many other useful guides that will help you to deliver safe and clean water to utility customers. 

To access the wealth of knowledge on Total Coliform within our database just select "CATEGORY" in the dropdown then choose "Total Coliform." Once you make that selection, a second dropdown will appear where you can choose "HOST," “TYPE,” or “STATE” to narrow the search even further. If you have a specific search term in mind, use the “Keyword Filter” search bar on the right side of the screen.

This is part of our A-Z for Operators series.

Free Compliance Resources for the Revised Total Coliform Rule


Our 2020 free webinar series highlighted compliance-related resources on a number of topics. This recording contains information and free resources on the Revised Total Coliform Rule. Listed below are all the resources mentioned in the video.

Revised Total Coliform Rule: A Quick Reference Guide

This is a 3-page reference guide that provides an overview of the Revised Total Coliform Rule.

Total Coliform Rule: A Quick Reference Guide

This is a 2-page reference guide that provides an overview of the Total Coliform Rule. 

Coliform Bacteria and Drinking Water

This is a 2-page question and answer document from the Washington State Department of Health about coliform bacteria in drinking water. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Placards

This is a collection of six e-fillable placards on the requirements of the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Repeat Monitoring Requirements For Small Systems

This is a reference guide for repeat monitoring that can be used to identify if there were any violations and what actions to take.

Vermont DEC Pocket Sampling Guide to RTCR

This is a small pocket guide with information on complying with the RTCR sampling requirements. 

Flowchart for Triggered Source Water Monitoring

This is a flowchart developed by the New Jersey DEP for public water systems on quarterly and monthly schedules. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule: Routine Positive Sample Flowchart (For Community Water Supplies)

This is a routine positive sample flowchart from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on what to do when a system triggers a TC+ routine sample. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Sample Siting Plan with Template Manual

This is an 11-page manual that provides information on how to choose proper sampling locations and instructions on completing the template while complying with the RTCR.

Guidance for Developing a Coliform Sample Siting Plan

This is a 14-page guidance document from the New Jersey DEP that expands on each component of the siting plan. 

RTCR Sample Plan Checklist for Water Systems

This is a 1-page checklist that can be used to ensure a successful sample plan. 

Revised Total Coliform (RTCR): Bacteriological Sample Siting Plan (SSP) Tutorial

This is a 12-minute training video that provides concise details on the steps to complete a plan.

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Sampling Plan: Form Training
This is a 12-minute video from the Vermont DEC providing instructions on completing a plan.

AWWA Coliform Sampling Video
This is a 3-minute video on how to properly collect water samples.

Coliform Sampling Best Practices

This is a 6-minute video on proper sample collection techniques and tips to reduce false-positive results.

Revised Total Coliform Assessment Factsheet

This is a 2-page factsheet providing the guidelines for when a Level 1 or 2 assessment is triggered.

Revised Total Coliform Rule Assessment and Compliance Training

This 137-page manual was designed by the Pennsylvania DEP to train individuals to perform a Level 1 assessment and explain the process of completing a Level 2 assessment if necessary.

Revised Total Coliform Rule Assessments and Corrective Actions Guidance Manual

This is a 164-page manual that covers assessment and corrective action requirements under the RTCR.

Level 1 Site Assessment Under RTCR
This video covers the steps for completing an assessment while providing additional tips and advice about the process. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule Level 2 Assessment Training

This is a 90-page training manual designed to prepare individuals to perform the Level 2 assessment that includes a template for the assessment and a checklist to prepare an assessment.

Public Notification Instructions and Templates for the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

This is a 38-page document that includes instructions as well as templates for reporting RTCR violations.

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Level 1 Assessments and Start-up Procedures - Iowa DNR

This is a 4-minute video walking through the start-up procedures checklist and level 1 assessment form.

Seasonal Public Water System Startup Instruction

This is a 22-minute video providing instructions to complete the start-up checklist and certification form.

The Revised Total Coliform Rule A Guide for Small Public Water Systems

This is a 98-page guidance manual for systems serving less than 1,000 customers on how to comply with the RTCR. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule for Drinking Water

This is a series of 6 online presentations designed to help systems learn more about the RTCR requirements.

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

This is a 110-slide presentation from the Vermont DEC that provides a comprehensive background of the RTCR. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule(RTCR) Frequently Asked Questions

This is a 6-page list of frequently asked questions developed by the New Jersey DEP about the RTCR. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule – Chapter 3 Question Index

This is a 21-page list of questions and answers from chapter 3 of the Illinois EPA from Sample Collector’s Handbook. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

This is an ASDWA webpage that allows states to share plans and materials for RTCR implementation.


Please note that we are not able to provide certificates for watching a webinar recording.