Rock Beats

Environmental Services lab has record month

Katherine Landsdowne with a table full of water samples


In June, the City’s Environmental Services lab processed a record number of 1,896 water samples, more than double its typical monthly average of 850.


The Environmental Services lab has been certified since 1996 for the analysis of coliform bacteria. The lab performs bacteriological tests on drinking water to see if a sample contains certain contaminants. It serves both the City of Round Rock and external customers. All public drinking water systems must take a specific number of samples monthly and have them tested to make sure they are safe.


The city itself collects and analyzes approximately 105 samples a month and we also analyze approximately 750 from more than 121 other water systems and customers.


In June, one lab customer, Chlor-Serv, had to disinfect and take samples on a 50-mile long water pipe project.┬áIt was a 30-inch water transmission line from Caldwell to Manor. For this major project, Chlor-Serv submitted 914 samples to the City’s lab during one week.


“It was a challenge for the lab staff because we basically ran a month’s worth of samples in one week,” says Tracy Herring, environmental services supervisor. “And we essentially have to process the samples the same day they come in. We can’t let them sit around because then the sample loses integrity and has to be retaken. So there was a small time window.”


The samples are not difficult to run but they are time consuming and require a lot of paperwork.


“It was a great team effort,” says Tracy. “We took care of Chlor-Serv and still managed our normal workload.”


The lab staff members are Jeff Knebel, pretreatment compliance specialist; Katherine Landsdowne, environmental lab analyst; Michele Risko, senior environmental lab analyst; and Anja Thissen, admin tech.


Round Rock’s Environmental Services lab has proven a popular alternative for area customers to driving down to labs in Austin.


“We have customers from as far away as Fort Hood,” says Tracy. “We’ve pretty much got the market for these samples in this area.”


The lab turns a profit as well. The Chlor-Serv job alone earned more than $14,000 for the City.


“These tests are critical and we are committed to serving our customers,” says Tracy. “We’re really pleased that we were able to pull this off.”