Customer Service

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Environmental Health
Public Health
 
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What you need to know

The staff of the Customer Service section is dedicated to serving our customer's needs in the most efficient way possible.  Customer Service is responsible for the following operations:

  • Ensuring quality customer satisfaction
  • Shipping sample collection kits
  • Receiving and scanning in samples
  • Demographic data entry and reporting
  • Custodian of all official lab records

 

Analyte/Price List​

The Analyte/Price List includes the Analytes the lab can test for, Method used, Price, EPA Holding Time and our lab's Turn Around Time.  Our laboratory is not able to perform every possible environmental test.   Those tests that are of low volume are contracted out (noted on list).  Each contract laboratory is EPA or NELAC approved and works closely with us to ensure accuracy of each result. 

We will make every effort to meet holding times of samples delivered to the laboratory.  The laboratory cannot be held responsible for delays out of our control, such as improper sample collection, delivery delays, or equipment breakdown.  We request that samples with holding times less than 48 hours (except coliforms) be prearranged with Customer Service in advance.  If you need a sample result by a particular date contact the Lab Manager in advance to arrange special handling, note the information on the request form and include a phone number for future reference.  If you have prearranged a short holding time sample and decide not to collect the sample, please cancel the order with the laboratory.

We will also make every effort to complete each test within the turnaround time stated in the Analyte/Price List.  Turnaround times do not include weekends or holidays.  If a sample is required within a particular timeframe, please contact the Lab Manager to see if the laboratory can meet your needs.

See the NPHEL Total Water Quality (NEW WELL) Fee List for the cost of new well testing.


 

Order sample collection kits

To order sample collection kits online use one of the following links:

- Private Clients or Companies

- Public Water System Clien​ts and Schools

To order sample collection kits via phone, call NPHEL Customer Service at (402) 471-3935.  Customer service hours are 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays.

The following information is needed: Name, address, phone number, your system's NE31 or NE32 account number (if applicable), type of test kit(s) requested, and quantity of each kit(s).

All Public Water System client accounts are set up and maintained by the State of Nebraska Office of Drinking Water.  For changes in status, address, or water operator call (402) 471-2713.

If you need help in selecting the appropriate test for a particular water problem, Private clients and Public Water System clients should call the State of Nebraska Office of Drinking Water at (402) 471-6435 for assistance or email: dhhs.drinkingwater@nebraska.gov.

In addition, please send any requests for a Well and Septic Inspection to the State of Nebraska Office of Drinking Water at (402) 471-6435 for assistance or email: dhhs.drinkingwater@nebraska.gov.


 

Drinking water testing for home loans

The Laboratory is continuously striving to provide the most efficient, friendly and cost effective service to customers statewide. To best serve all of the realtors of the state we wish to provide the realty community information that will help us better meet your needs in a timely fashion. Please allow at least a week and preferably two weeks to process your samples and report the results to you. Planning ahead will reduce both your frustration and possible client disappointment at closing time.

Order sample collection kits as soon as possible to prevent a delay in receiving needed supplies.  Order online by using the Private Clients or Companies link above or by calling (402) 471-3935 between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays.   When ordering your testing kit you must provide the following information:

  • Name, address and daytime phone number of person or business to receive sample kit.
  • Name, address and daytime phone number of person or business to receive results.
  • Name, address and daytime phone number of person or business to receive bill.
  • Test type (check with lender for the specific test(s) required).
  • Quantity.

It is important to provide the correct information when ordering your sample kit(s).  If the testing fee is included in the closing costs, the caller should provide billing information for the appropriate bank, lending office, or realty office.  If the testing fee will not be included in the closing costs, the caller should provide billing information for the buyer or seller whichever is appropriate. Whomever is specified by the caller, will receive the invoice and will be responsible for paying the testing fee.

Important things to remember when ordering water tests on home loans:

  • Total Coliform samples must be received and tested within 30 hours of collection.
  • Nitrite samples must be received and tested within 48 hours of collection.
  • The laboratory must acidify lead samples when they are received. The samples must then sit for at least 16 hours before they can be scheduled into the workload.
  • Please allow up to two weeks' time to receive a test result after submitting a sample especially when lead results are requested.
  • Do not request rush results (less than one week) without first talking to customer service or a laboratory manager. Due to instrument maintenance, testing schedules and prior promised project deadlines rush sample requests might not be able to be completed when requested. So please plan ahead to avoid a delay. If circumstances do arise and a rush sample is needed, please call the laboratory customer service at (402) 471-3935 prior to mailing or dropping off a sample. This will allow the staff to inform the analyst when samples will be arriving so they can best meet your needs.
  • Indicate on the sample request form that the sample is for a home loan. If there is a closing date include that so the laboratory staff can do their best to meet that closing date.
  • Provide a name and phone number on the sample request form of someone who can be contacted if a problem arises with the sample that will pose problems with expected completion.

Invoices are mailed weekly and are due 30 days from the invoice date. The invoice will list the type of analysis, sample number, collection date, sampling location and sample collector.  This information is obtained from the submission forms that accompany the sample kits and can be used as a tool to match invoices to result forms. Please submit the remittance copy of each invoice with all payments to ensure proper account crediting.  Statements are issued on a monthly basis to any customers who have past due invoices.  For accounts receivable questions, call (402) 471-8441.​

Sample kits and general sample instructions

Samples must be collected in sample kits supplied by the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory.  Sample collection instructions are included with all sample collection kits, except routine public water system coliform kits.  Read these instructions before you collect your sample to prevent your sample from being rejected.  Samples not collected properly will be rejected and a replacement kit will be sent to you.

Unpacking your sample collection kits

When you receive your sample collection kits, take time to carefully unpack your box.  All sample kits, except the routine public water system coliform samples should include:

  • Sampling instructions,
  • One or more sampling containers,
  • One or more sample submission forms with barcode labels and a return mailing label attached,
  • Plastic zip lock bag for wet ice (depending on the test method), and
  • A return mailing box/cooler.

If you are missing one or more of these items or have questions regarding your order, call Customer Service at (402) 471-3935.


Note:  If your kit requires ice to maintain appropriate temperature during shipment, please use wet ice.  Crushed ice does not last as long as larger ice chunks.  Do not use dry ice.  Dry ice can freeze samples causing sample containers to break. 

How to read and fill out your sample request form

Each sample request form that you receive with your sample collection kit(s) will give a Lab identification number.  This number is unique to your sample.  It will track your sample from kit preparation to result archival.  The sample request form will tell you what the request is for and what method(s) is to be used.  The reason for the sample request will also be indicated, along with any special comments.  Your account number and/or name will appear on the bottom of each form.  Please check to see that you received the sample request form for the appropriate client.  If the request form(s) is not for your account, call customer service at (402) 471-3935, to report the problem.

All samples submitted for testing must be accompanied with a completed sample request form.  Each request form must include the following information:

  • Name of  person who collected the sample,
  • Date of collection,
  • Time of collection, and
  • POE (Point of Entry) or Location from which the sample was collected.  The location should indicate where the sample was collected, for example kitchen sink, outside east faucet, drinking fountain 4th floor, or John Doe's 122 E 10th.
  • Residual Chlorine (if applicable)

The EPA requires the calculation of the sample holding time be based on the sample collection date and time supplied on the sample request form.  Samples received without complete information will be rejected and a replacement sample collection kit will be sent to you. 


 

Sample identification

  • Each sample must be labeled with at least one barcode label to ensure that the sample can be linked to the appropriate client and request form.  When you receive the sample collection kit(s), a sample request form should be included with each kit.  The request form contains preprinted barcode labels that need to be removed from the request form and attached to the appropriate sample bottle(s)/vials(s).  Every sample collection kit must have at least one barcode label affixed to it before it is returned to the laboratory.  Extra care should be taken to label each sample correctly.  If you have more than one kit to collect make sure that the barcode label for each kit type is attached to the sample container for the appropriate test.  NOTE:  In some cases, sample instructions ask you to put two barcode labels on each sample container/vial.
  • If your sample containers are returned without barcode identification or with the wrong barcode identification, they will be rejected and a replacement sample collection kit will be shipped to you.
  • Do not label two containers from two different tests with the same barcode label.  This will result in invalidation of both samples due to improper identification.
  • Do not put large address labels on the sample containers.
  • Do not seal sample containers with extra labels.
  • Do not affix extra barcode labels to the Styrofoam mailer. ​

After you have collected your sample(s), make certain you have:

  • Attached the appropriate barcode label(s) to your sample(s),
  • Filled out the info on bottle/vial if label has been provided,
  • Filled out the request form(s) including DATES and TIME of collection,
  • Included a daytime phone number on your request form.

Important

Forgetting any of these items may invalidate your sample(s)!



Delivery and shipping suggestions

You may drop off samples at the laboratory front desk, located at 3701 South 14th Street, during business hours, 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays.  An afterhours drop box for samples is available just north and around the corner of the main laboratory entrance.  Do not leave samples outside the box or front door.  This practice possesses a security risk for lab personnel as well as other clients.  Please note that samples left in the drop box are picked up the next business day, unless special arrangements have been made ahead of time with laboratory staff.  (Call (402) 471-2122, during normal business hours to arrange for special after-hour sample drop off).

Exposure to extreme temperatures may compromise collected samples and the testing results may not accurately reflect the true result.  Avoid leaving samples in places, such as vehicles, postal boxes, and other spaces that could expose a collected sample to extreme temperatures.  Freezing can cause sample containers to break.  High temperature can encourage growth of bacteria, which may degrade organic components in the sample.

Check with your post office to see when mail is routinely scheduled to leave your town for Lincoln delivery.  Collection of the sample in the afternoon may reduce the time in transit.  This will help ensure that your sample(s) meets holding times without missing the out-going mail truck.  Your post office can also recommend the appropriate postage (first-class, priority express overnight) for the type of delivery that you may need to ensure that your sample(s) arrives in good condition and within the required time period.

Other delivery services, such as Federal Express and United Parcel can be used.  Be sure that delivery will be between normal working hours.  Weekend and holiday delivery must be scheduled with the laboratory prior to delivery company pickup.  (The laboratory will make arrangements for weekend and holiday receipt of samples delivered by delivery companies or clients on an emergency basis only). 

Sample collection do's and don'ts

  • DO save a barcode sticker for your records from each sample collection kit that you send into the laboratory.  This number can be used later to track your sample through the laboratory computer system.
  • To better organize the amount of work coming into the laboratory, some sample collection kits specify a specific date for the sample collection.  Do your best to collect the sample(s) on or within a few days of the specified date and mail immediately.  If it is not possible to collect the sample around the specified date, call customer service at (402) 471-3935 to make other arrangements for collection.
  • DO NOT fill out your sample request form with water soluble ink or pencil.  The information may be lost if the sample container sweats or leaks in-transit to the laboratory.
  • If you send in an address change, please let us know whether the change is for shipping, reporting, and/or billing.  Changes should be written on your sample request form or on a separate note attached to the form.  Be sure the note includes your account number and/or name.
  • DO NOT wrap your sample request form around your sample collection container.  Leave the sample request form outside of the Styrofoam box, the same way it was shipped to you.
  • Schedule all testing for BODs, Orthos, Fecal Coliforms, Heterotrophic Plate Counts, and Nitrite's with Customer Service at (402) 471-3935, at least 24 hours in advance.  These all have short holding times and require special handling in the laboratory to meet method requirements.
  • DO NOT mail or deliver your kits with short holding times so that they will arrive on a weekend or holiday, unless prior arrangements have been made.
  • If you need fast turnaround for a special project or emergency, call the Laboratory Manager at (402) 471-2122 and ask if the lab can meet your special testing needs.  We will make every effort to accommodate your requests. ​

Getting your results

Results are processed by Customer Service only after the testing data has been reviewed by two analysts.  Results are mailed to the client once both reviews are completed and the report has been reviewed for completeness and accuracy by management.  Sample results for Public Water Supply Systems, can be accessed through the State of Nebraska Drinking Water Watch. Follow directions to navigate to your public water system and sample results.

The Sample Custodian and Lab Managers can give verbal results to customers if they are finalized.  Please allow sufficient time for the testing and the review process before inquiring about your results.  (See the Analyte/Price List for normal turnaround time for each test method).  Call Customer Service at (402) 471-8449 to check the status of your results.  Results are only released to the clients on the sample request form.  When you call for a result, please have your NE31 or NE32 account number (if you are a Public Water System or School), client name, and lab ID number available to help us track your sample.

Reading and Interpreting Your Results

See the Sample Report  for an example of our laboratory analytical report along with information on how to read and interpret your report.

Sample disposal

Some samples are disposed of once the sample has been tested.  Due to the nature of those samples, they cannot be retested.  Other samples are stored for up to one month after their report date.  Please contact the laboratory, as soon as possible, if you wish a sample to be retested or stored for a longer period of time.   We would be happy to retest those samples, however if the repeat result confirms the first result, the client will be charged for the second test.