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Drinking Water

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 or the Public Health Laboratory in Orillia within 24 hours - preferably on the same day it's collected.
  • Health unit offices (except Orillia and 80 Bradford St., Barrie) accept samples Monday to Thursday. 
  • Your water sample must 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.
  • 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 intended for drinking water (i.e. do not sample from untreated lake water).

    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.

    Run the cold tap for 2 to 3 minutes.

    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.

    Turn on the cold water again. Let it run for two to three minutes before collecting sample.

    Remove the lid of the sample bottle. Do not touch the inside of the lid, put the lid down, or touch it with anything other than the water being collected. Do not rinse out the bottle.

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

    Results are unreliable if the sample is improperly collected, stored or transported.

    Adapted from Public Health Ontario

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