Taking and submitting a water sample

Drinking water quality can change frequently. Test often.

It is important to collect your water sample properly. The accuracy of your test results depends on it.

Where can I pick up a sample bottle?

Sample bottles are available at all Public Health Ontario Laboratories. In addition to these locations, bottles can be picked-up at the following locations:

Important: once you collect your water sample, bring it to a Public Health Ontario Laboratory.

Fill out the form

  1. Fill out all the grey-shaded areas on the form that came with the water sample kit from the laboratory. If your form is incomplete, the public health laboratory will not test your sample.
  2. Write your name on the name tag that is on the plastic bag. Peel the name tag off and stick it to the bottle. The name on the name tag must match the name on the form. Do not cover the barcodes.
  3. Decide how you want to receive your test results by checking off the correct box on the form. You can get your test results by telephone. If you want your sample results by phone, remove one of the barcodes from the bottle and stick it to the “Water Results by Telephone” card located in the kit. The number on the barcode is your Personal Identification Number (PIN). You will need it to get your results by telephone.

How to take a drinking water sample

  1. Use the sample bottle provided in the kit. Check the lid of the bottle to make sure the tamper-evident ring is not separated from the cap. If it is, use a new collection kit.
  2. Remove any attachments from the kitchen faucet such as aerators, filters, hoses, screens, or splash guards. If you cannot do this, take a sample from an inside tap with no aerator, such as a bathtub or laundry room sink. Do not take a sample from an outside tap or the garden hose.
  3. Disinfect the faucet by submersing it in a cup of bleach (one part household bleach to 10 parts water) or use alcohol swabs to thoroughly wipe it inside and out. This will remove debris or bacteria that may adversely affect the water sample results.
  4. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water before collecting the water sample.
  5. Turn on the cold water tap and let the water run for two to three minutes. This will remove any standing water from your plumbing system.
  6. Carefully remove the lid of the sample bottle. Hold the cap in one hand and the bottle in the other. Do not touch the mouth of the bottle or the inside of the bottle cap. Do not put the lid down or rinse out the bottle.
  7. Carefully add cold water to the bottle up to the fill line (200 mL). Never overfill the water sample bottle.
  8. Put the cap back onto the bottle without touching the inside of the cap or the mouth of the bottle with your fingers.
  9. Refrigerate the water sample (do not freeze) or keep it in a cooler with ice packs if you cannot deliver it to the laboratory within 6 hours.
  10. Send or bring your sample to the laboratory as soon as possible. Samples must arrive and be tested within 48 hours of collection. If a sample is too old when it is received at the laboratory, it will not be tested.

Where can I bring my sample?

Water samples can only be submitted for testing Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Samples can be brought to any Public Health Ontario laboratory for testing. You can deliver samples to the following locations:

Contact a public health inspector for more information on how to take a water sample or to discuss your sample results. Phone 705.522.9200, ext. 464 or toll-free at 1.866.522.9200.

This item was last modified on May 25, 2021