General Lab Information

The City of Keene has its own EPA accredited environmental laboratory. It is fully equipped with state of the art instruments for testing drinking water, wastewater, and groundwater.  The busy staff of 3, Donna Hanscom, Aaron Costa, Zach Adams, together provide the experience and person power to perform thousands of tests each year.

The lab is nationally certified through the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program for the following tests in both drinking water and wastewater:

  • Bacteria: total and fecal coliform bacteria
  • Chemical testing:

    biochemical oxygen demand
    specific conductivity
    total kjeldahl nitrogen
    total residual chlorine
    total suspended solids

  • Metals:


The laboratory provides support service to several of the City’s divisions:

Wastewater Treatment Plant -- (WWTP)

Routine work for the WWTP includes testing what comes in (influent) and what goes out (effluent), and the river it goes to (the Ashuelot). The tests, which are required by EPA, measure the amount of biodegradable material, nutrients, and metals in the waters. The lab also tests the Plant’s biosolids (a.k.a. sludge) to ensure no hazards exist to limit its disposal. Finally, the lab checks the Plant’s process parameters - tests used to help the WWTP staff evaluate the Plant’s overall health and efficiency.

As part of the Industrial Pretreatment Program, the lab staff collects and analyzes samples of wastewater from the City’s major industries. This is a federally mandated effort to monitor the presence of hazardous chemicals in the City’s wastewater.

Drinking Water System

Nearly 1000 drinking water samples are collected at sites throughout the City each year, and are brought to the lab to be tested for the presence of total coliform and E.coli bacteria. This 24 hour test can also provide results that the Public Works personnel use to determine if a new water main is clean enough to be connected to the rest of the City’s drinking water lines.

The drinking water is tested for metals, mostly lead and copper, but other ones, too. 60 homes are tested each year as part of an on-going program to monitor the effectiveness of the drinking water treatment process.

15 monitoring wells have been installed around the Court Street wells and are tested as part of a long term monitoring program designed to keep tabs on the future quality of the City’s water supply. The lab staff has been sampling and testing the water in these well three times a year since 1997.

Several studies on the Ashuelot River and Beaver Brook are ongoing summer projects for the laboratory staff. Samples are collected to determine the presence of fecal bacteria, or other indicators of sewage pollution. If you see them out sampling -- be sure and wave!!


As part of a monitoring program to determine what effect, if any, the City’s landfill has on the groundwater in its immediate vicinity, the lab staff samples and tests monitoring wells. These wells are located around the perimeter of the landfill, both up and downstream of the groundwater flow.

We’re proud of our laboratory, and love to show it off. If you’d like a tour, contact us.