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How to Take a Water Sample for Bacteriological Testing

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Before sampling:

  • You can get a proper water sample bottle from the Public Health Laboratory or a health unit office (except for 80 Bradford Street, Barrie). Only water collected directly into these bottles will be accepted.
  • Plan to sample your well water when you’re sure you can deliver to a health unit office (except for Orilia, 80 Bradford St, Barrie) or the Public Health Laboratory in Orillia within 24 hours. Your water sample must be kept cool – do not store or transport in warm places such as your trunk.

How to Sample:

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




  1. Remove any aerator, screen, or other attachment from your kitchen faucet. If you cannot do this, take a sample from an inside tap with no aerator, such as the bathtub. Do not take a sample from an outside faucet or the garden hose.

  2. Swab the end of the faucet spout with isopropyl alcohol or diluted bleach solution (1 part household bleach to 10 parts water) to remove debris or bacteria. Do not disinfect the spout with a flame because this can damage the faucet. 

  3. Turn on the cold water. Let it run for two to three minutes (until the water runs cold) to remove standing water from your plumbing system. 

  4. Remove the lid of the sample bottle. Do not touch the inside of the lid, put the lid down, or rinse out the bottle. 

  5. Fill the bottle to the level that is marked (see instructions in kit). Close the lid firmly and refrigerate.

Bottles can be dropped off to a health unit office (except for Orillia and 80 Bradford Street, Barrie offices). Please do not submit bottles on a Friday to any health unit office.

Sample bottle can also be taken directly to the Public Health Laboratory at 750 Memorial Ave., Orillia (across from OPP Headquarters) Monday to Friday.

Adapted from Public Health Ontario.


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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 30 September 2015.