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How to Read Laboratory Results

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The Public Health Laboratory tests for indicator bacteria called total coliform and E.coli.

Total Coliform: These bacteria are often found in animal waste and sewage, and soil and vegetation. If they are in your drinking water, it means surface water may be entering your well.

E. coli (Escherichia coli). These bacteria are normally found only in the digestive systems of people and animals. If they are in your drinking water, it usually means that animal or human waste is entering your well from a nearby source.

Click on a result below to better understand what it means and what to do:

No Significant Evidence of Bacterial Contamination

Total coliform: 5 or less

E. coli:  0

What it means:

  • No significant bacterial contamination was found.

What to do:

  • Continue to test your drinking water on a regular basis to see if there are any changes in your drinking water quality (three times/year).

Significant Evidence of Bacterial Contamination

Total coliform: More than 5

E. coli: 0

What it means:

  • Significant bacterial contamination was found.

What to do:

  • Stop using your tap water. Consider using bottled water or a municipal supply.
  • Check treatment, shock well and follow well disinfection procedure.
  • Resample your water.

If you wish to continue to use your tap water, first bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Let it cool before using it for drinking, making baby breastmilk substitutes (infant formula), juices, ice or recipes, brushing your teeth, rinsing contact lenses, and washing food or dishes.

Refrigerate your boiled water until it is used.

UNSAFE TO DRINK - Evidence of Faecal Contamination

E. coli: 1 or more

What it means:

  • Indicates bacterial contamination from animal or human faeces.
  • Your water is UNSAFE TO DRINK.

What to do:

  • Stop using your tap water. Consider using bottled water or a municipal supply.
  • If you have a treatment device check it for problems. Maintenance may be needed.
  • Resample your water.

If you wish to continue to use your tap water, first bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Let it cool before using it for drinking, making baby breastmilk substitutes (infant formula), juices, ice or recipes, brushing your teeth, rinsing contact lenses, and washing food or dishes.

Refrigerate your boiled water until it is used.

NDOGN - No Data: Overgrown with Non-target

What it means:

  • Heavily contaminated with bacteria often found in the environment.
  • Your drinking water MAY be unsafe to drink.

What to do:

  • Stop using your tap water. Consider using bottled water or a municipal supply.
  • Resample you water.

If you wish to continue to use your tap water, first bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Let it cool before using it for drinking, making baby breastmilk substitutes (infant formula), juices, ice or recipes, brushing your teeth, rinsing contact lenses, and washing food or dishes.

Refrigerate your boiled water until it is used.

    NDOGT - No Data: Overgrown with Target

    What it means:

    • Heavily contaminated with bacteria often found in the environment and the indicators of bacterial contamination, total coliforms and / or E. coli are present.
    • Your drinking water is UNSAFE to drink.

    What to do:

    • Stop using your tap water. Considering using bottled water or a municipal supply.
    • If you have a treatment device check it for problems. Maintenance may be needed.
    • Resample your water.

    If you wish to continue to use your tap water, first bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Let it cool before using it for drinking, making baby breastmilk substitutes (infant formula), juices, ice or recipes, brushing your teeth, rinsing contact lenses, and washing food or dishes.

    Refrigerate your boiled water until it is used.

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