How to Check Your RTCR Results in 5 Simple Steps
Public water systems are complex, have a lot of moving parts, and place a tremendous amount of responsibility on water operators. Among the many responsibilities we have to juggle, the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) is arguably the most important. Incorrectly reporting the required number of samples can create big issues for your water system and the community that relies on it.
Apart from the rather obvious potential for public health decline, the downstream effect of mismanaging your water system’s sampling requirements are fines and violations from the TCEQ.
Both of these get a big "Nope!" from us. We don't want either of those to happen to you!
Checking your water system’s RTCR samples with the TCEQ’s Texas Drinking Water Watch utility is fast and easy. It's so easy it can be done in 5 simple steps. Let's take a quick look.
1. Follow the URL
You can start by visiting the Texas Drinking Water Watch utility.
2. Enter Your Water System ID
On the Texas Drinking Water Watch page, notice the six text fields in the Public Water Supply System Search Parameters section:
Water System No.
Water System Name
Principal County Served
Water System Type
Primary Source Water Type
Simply fill in the top field with your entity's water system number. You aren't required to fill in all six fields. Once you've filled in the appropriate information, click the "Search For Water Systems" button at the bottom left.
3. By the Numbers
In the image above, note there are three hyperlinks:
Water System No.
Click on the water system number hyperlink to access imminently valuable information about your water system. In the case of the City of Lewisville, that'd be TX0610004.
4. Find Your Total Coliform Rule Sample Results
The second column from the right contains the link we’re looking for: TCR Sample Results. Select this link and let's move on to step 5.
5. Count the Number of Samples per Month
The TCR Sample Results page is organized in an easy-to-read table. I'll briefly summarize what each column name stands for and why it might be important. Hey, you never know who'll find it helpful!
This column will display one of two possible codes: RT or RP. RT stands for routine and RP stands for a repeat. Occasionally, code RP will be accompanied by a location modifier for additional context.
This identifier pertains to the sample in question. It's always created by the laboratory that evaluated the sample. At no time should this number change.
Dates come in many forms and can refer to anything. In this case, the date column records the collection date of the sample in question. As above, this field value should not change.
Facility codes made an appearance in last week's blog, 5 Important Parts of a Sample Schedule. At a 30,000-foot view, the facility column indicates where a water sample comes from. The facility column can be filled with several codes.
Some of the most common include the following:
Distribution system (DS)
Entry point (EP)
Treatment plant (TP)
If you're wondering which facilities your city or utility has, it's fairly easy to find out. For example, if your city or utility doesn't have a treatment plant, code TP won't be a valid facility entry on your sample schedule. To learn which facility codes apply to your city or utility, reference the Sample Points link found above Sample Schedules/FANLs/Plans on the main landing page for your water system.
Sample points are aptly named because they're points where a sample can be taken. The relationship between sample points and facilities is likewise simple. Every sample point is some kind of facility. All that's left to discern is which specific facility that is.
Sample Point Description
As the kids say, sometimes you just need "Moar data!" That's in the sense of more. For example, this description really doesn't need moar words. Ahem.
The state provides this identifier. Make no mistake, you can't change it. If you're lab 666, sorry 'bout ya. Also, if you're lab 666, I'm gonna be watching my samples far more closely. I'm just sayin'.
Theres' nothing like a single column that displays four column's worth of information, but here it is all broken down for easy consumption:
Results are either present (P) or absent (A).
Analyte refers to bacteria and/or organism(s) tested for (e.g., total coliform, e.coli, or fecal coliforms).
Method refers to the method number the lab used.
Monitoring period refers to what timeframe the samples count toward.
Putting It Together
For the purpose of this article, let's focus on the date column. To determine if the correct number of samples were submitted, count how many samples correspond with the relevant month. In this case, January.
Based on the above, three samples were submitted in January. Pretty simple, right? Although a bit elementary, monitoring this key metric is crucial.
As we all know, mistakes can and will happen. This goes double for sample data entry. If even the slightest error gets uploaded to the state, a result won't be posted. And while this is easy to fix, it might not get caught until the state issues a violation notification. Proactively fix errors before the awkward questions and heart palpitations begin.
Being surprised by violations and/or enforcement actions due to missed RTCR sampling is completely avoidable. Checking up on your Water System’s sampling schedule with TCEQ Texas Drinking Water Watch won't just prevent the aforementioned, but it'll also ensure your water system continues to supply clean water to the public.