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Drinking Water

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Drinking water

Drinking Water Sources

Residents living in private dwellings can obtain their personal drinking water from different water sources such as:

  • Surface water source
  • Wells (drilled well, dug well, well point)
  • Cistern

Test Your Drinking Water

The Ontario Public Health Laboratories will test your water for bacteria (E. coli and total coliforms). This service is free for all private drinking water system owners (e.g.wells that serve a single home or cottage). For all other water testing, including chemicals, please contact a privately owned licensed laboratory.

If you own a business, please visit our water system operator's page for more information on water testing.

Please note that municipal water is tested regularly by local municipalities. Water samples from a municipal supply are not analyzed by the Public Health Ontario Laboratories.

Drinking water sample collection kits can be picked up and dropped off at many of our health unit offices or a Public Health Ontario Laboratory. Only water collected directly into these sterile bottles will be accepted.

Plan to sample your well water when you’re sure you can deliver to a health unit office or a Public Health Laboratory within 24 hours - preferably on the same day it's collected.

Visit Public Health Ontario for instructions and more information about water testing, including:

  • How to collect a sample and fill out the forms
  • How to get and understand your results
  • How to protect your well water

Follow the steps provided carefully so that the sterile water sample bottle does not become contaminated, and sample water only intended for drinking water (i.e. do not sample from untreated lake water).

Your water sample must also be kept cool – do not store or transport in warm places such as your trunk. Results are unreliable if the sample is improperly collected, stored, or transported.

Water sample bottles can be dropped off at many of our health unit offices or a Public Health Ontario Laboratory. Please check drop off locations and times to ensure your water will be accepted for testing.
Visit Public Health Ontario for more information about how to get your results, understand your results and what to do next. If you would like to speak to a public health inspector about your results please call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Public Health Ontario Laboratories do not test for other contaminants such as chemicals and minerals. If you'd like to test your water for other contaminants, please contact a private licensed laboratory.

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