The Virginia Aquarium's water quality lab is approved by the State of Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality to process environmental samples from community volunteers and groups interested in monitoring local waterways. Waterways of interest include storm water retention ponds, creeks, rivers, estuaries, and other natural bodies of water. We are seeking citizen scientists, Home Owner Associations, school groups, or environmental groups who want to learn about the quality of their natural water sources.

It's easy to get started!

  • Complete the registration form
  • Bring your sample to the Aquarium on your assigned date, on ice, within 12 hours of collection.
  • Lab results will be emailed to you within 3 business days.
  • Results will also be mapped

What tests will be run?

Several tests will be run on each water sample, with additional tests available upon request. An explanation of parameters is also available.

Water Chemistry Panel

  • Salinity (ppt NaCL)
  • pH
  • Alkalinity (mg/L CaCO3)
  • Ammonia-N (mg/L)
  • Nitrite-N (mg/L)
  • Nitrate-N (mg/L)
  • Orthophosphate (mg/L)
  • Copper (mg/L)

Bacteria Panel

  • Total Coliform Bacteria (MPN per 100mL)
  • E. Coli (MPN per 100mL)

By request

  • Turbidity (FAU)
  • Color (PtCo)
  • Calcium (mg/L)
  • Magnesium (mg/L)

Some things to note:

  • We do not provide analysis of tap water, pool water, or well water. We are an environmental information source with laboratory inspections and quality control monitoring performed by the State of Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality, but we cannot make regulatory decisions on water quality, test drinking water, or provide data that will lead to health decisions.
  • We do not classify water as "good" or "bad." We provide the scientific data on a body of water, and provide details on the parameters we test. We are not a regulatory agency and do not provide assessments on the health of a system.