San Marcos City Council approved a $118,654.32 contract Jan. 16 with Fischer Scientific through OMNIA Partners Cooperative Purchasing for water quality laboratory equipment to perform in-house testing on public drinking water and wastewater.

Currently the city's lab, located at its Public Services Complex on 2217 E. McCarty Lane, is being used for processing water samples but not analyzing them. Instead, the city is sending water samples to subcontracted commercial labs.

The laboratory equipment purchased from Aquion IC and Gallery Aqua Master, according to agenda documents, will be used to test public drinking water and wastewater samples in-house, which means the city is one step closer to becoming an accredited laboratory.

What it means

Accreditation will give the city of San Marcos the ability to test all water and wastewater samples in-house, which will improve customer experience through quicker turnaround times and allow SMTX Utilities to have better control of internal costs, quality control oversight, staffing and data management.

Water Quality Manager Ron Riggins explained that in the event that a water main breaks on a Friday afternoon and causes a boil water notice, customers could be under a boil water notice for three-and-a-half days.

“Under our current conditions, we would not be able to collect a sample and get it to a laboratory in time before that laboratory closes to start an analysis on Friday evening,” Riggins said.

Although the city will eventually be saving money, in-house testing will be more efficient and have faster turnaround times, Riggins said.

“The quicker that we can get results, the better, not only for us as a utility but to be able to provide the necessary communication to the public in case there’s an issue,” he said.

What else?

The equipment purchased is automated and will also link to the city’s current software to be uploaded to its water quality database. Residents interested in viewing the city's past and current water quality reports can visit