An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

About EPA

Region 8 Laboratory: On-site field evaluation and sample collection

Aquatic Biology/Field Section

What We Do:

Provide field support for a variety of field investigations, with emphasis on surface water sampling.  We have particular expertise in hardrock mine impacted sites and lake studies.  We offer a full spectrum of field support, from designing, executing, and interpreting studies; to routine sample collection.  The aquatic biology/field section has a variety of tools that help us provide quality support to include: acoustic doppler velocimeter flow meters, flumes, fish electroshockers, automated water samplers, multi-parameter water quality field meters, high precision GPS units, multiple water craft – pack rafts, canoe, utility boat, river jet boat, and a vertical profiler buoy system with meteorological station and telemetry (for extended deployments on lakes or large rivers).

In addition to being familiar with various methods of sample collection, preservation, and documentation, we frequently use the following types of field measurement techniques: field parameter collection (temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, ORP, turbidity, chlorophyll-a, phycocyanin, and PAR), lake profiles, secchi measurements, long-term field meter deployments, automated sample collection, sediment sampling, ground water sample and field parameter collection, flow measurements, fish and macroinvertebrate surveys, densiometer, clinometer, and physical habitat assessments.

In the laboratory, we perform limited benthic macroinvertebrate and phytoplankton (diatom and cyanobacteria) identification.  Benthic macroinvertebrates can be identified to family level or lower and cyanobacteria can be identified to genus level for targeted algal toxin producing species.  Aquatic nuisance species identification can also be performed (Didymosphenia geminata, New Zealand mudsnail, Eurasian watermilfoil, quagga/zebra mussel, rusty crayfish, etc.) in the lab.  High quality digital pictures can be taken of the organisms using our digital microscope camera. 

Field training, safety training, audits, project/QAPP design, and technical support are also available from the aquatic biology/field section.

Microbial/Molecular Analysis Section

What We Do:

Our capabilities include routine microbial analysis of heterotrophs, total coliforms, fecal coliforms, E. coli, and enterococci in drinking water, wastewater, surface water, and groundwater. Methods used during routine testing include the EPA approved heterotrophic plate count methods, and the chromogenic/fluorogenic substrate methods.

Quantitative analysis of algal toxin analysis using Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assays and algal chlorophyll-a determinations using spectrophotometric methods can also be performed.  ELISA methods include, but are not limited to microcystin, cylindrospermopsin, and anatoxin-a. 

Region 8 staff are developing rapid tests to detect and identify pathogens in various environmental matrices. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) capabilities for qualitative and quantitative determinations of E. coli and other microbial indicators of human fecal contamination, including microorganisms, are currently being developed and tested.

Microbiology/molecular staff are certified drinking water auditors through EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW).  Section members audit Region 8 state drinking water laboratories and selected private drinking water laboratories in the state of Wyoming to insure such laboratories comply with SDWA requirements for analysis of microbiology samples. The microbiology section is certified by OGWDW and holds National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference accreditation through The NELAC Institute (TNI).

We provide consultation and other services on SDWA, CWA, and TNI microbiology laboratory compliance, sample analysis, laboratory certification and accreditation, sample collection, and other aspects of microbiology and molecular biology to individuals, other U.S. agencies, watershed groups, and local and state governments.