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Water Testing: Submit a well water sample

Ensure your sample meets all criteria to be accepted for testing:

Acceptance Criteria Checklist for Private Citizen Water Testing

It’s important to collect your sample properly.

The accuracy of your test results depends on it.

At the Public Health Ontario Laboratories, we test for the indicators of bacterial contamination: coliforms​ and E. coli. We do not test for other contaminants such as chemicals. This means that even if your result shows there is no bacterial contamination in your drinking water, it still may be unsafe to drink.

To find out how to test for other contaminants, contact your local public health unit.   


Test oftenTest often

Drinking water quality can change frequently. The best way to protect your drinking water is to test often. If you have a concern about the quality of your drinking water, contact your local public health unit

take a drinking water sample

Take a drinking water sample

Grey Bruce Public Health Unit's video shows you how to take a drinking water sample and submit it to your local PHO laboratory.

Go to video »

1. Pick up a drinking water sample collection kit.

2. Use the sample bottle provided in the kit.

  • ​We only accept drinking water that is collected directly into this bottle.
  • Check the lid of the bottle.
  • If the seal is broken use a new collection kit.

3. ​Plan to sample your well water when you are sure it can be delivered to the PHO laboratory in time.

  • Contact your local public health unit for sample drop-off locations in your community and to confirm how soon after collection a sample must be submitted to ensure it is tested within the required 48 hour limit.
  • If the sample is too old when they are received at the laboratory, it will not be tested. 

4. 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. 

5. Turn on the cold water.

  • ​Let the water run for two to three minutes to remove standing water from your plumbing system.

6. Swab the end of the faucet spout with alcohol or diluted bleach solution.

  • ​Use a diluted bleach solution (1 part household bleach to 10 parts water) or an alcohol prep pad to remove debris or bacteria.
  • Do not disinfect the spout with a flame because this can damage the faucet. 

7. Turn on the cold water again.

  • ​Let the water run for two to three minutes.

8. Remove the lid of the sample bottle.

  • ​Do not touch the inside of the lid, put down the lid, or rinse out the bottle. 

​9. Fill the bottle to the level that is marked

  • ​See instructions in the kit.
  • Close the lid firmly.

Fill out the forms

Fill out the forms

1. Fill out all the gray-shaded areas on the form.

Click to enlarge
Include the following:

  • Your first and last names*
  • Your complete mailing address*
  • The location of your well*
    (include postal code) 
  • Date and time you collected the sample *(include year) 
  • Tell us how you want to receive your report (by mail or pickup at the laboratory)* 




If your form is incomplete, the laboratory will not test your sample, and you will need to submit another sample with another form. 




  • Your daytime telephone number
    (include area code) 
  • Public health unit number.
    (See page 2 of the instructions)
  • Postal codes
  • County
  • Emergency locator number/911#


2. Write your name on the nametag that is on the plastic bag.


  • ​Peel the nametag off and stick it to the bottle.
  • Do not cover the barcodes. 
  • The name on the nametag must match the name on the form.

3. You can choose to get your report in person or by mail.  You can access your results by telephone through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) at 1-877-723-3426.

  • ​Just check off the suitable box on the form.
  • To receive your results by telephone, remove one of the barcodes from the bottle and stick it to the "Water Results by Telephone” card in the kit. The number on the barcode is your Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is needed to get your results by telephone

drop off your sample 
Drop off your sample

1. Keep the sample cool (not frozen) until you drop it off.

  • ​Do not store the sample in a warm place as this can affect the accuracy of your results. 

2. Drop off the sample as soon as possible at a PHO Laboratory or public health unit drop-off location.

  • ​Contact your local public health unit for sample drop-off locations in your community and to confirm how soon after collection a sample must be submitted to ensure it is tested within the required 48 hour limit.

​Drop-off hours

PHO Regional Laboratories:
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Saturday, Sunday, statutory holidays.​ ​ ​
PHO Toronto Laboratory:

​81 Resources Road in Etobicoke
Monday to Friday — 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Closed Saturday, Sunday, statutory holidays.

For private citizen drinking water samples only


​661 University Avenue, 17th floor reception desk
Monday to Friday — 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Closed Saturday, Sunday, statutory holidays.

Public Health Unit:
​Contact your local public health unit for locations and hours. ​ ​
Page last reviewed:
Page last updated: 2019-01-02 10:11 AM
Uncontrolled print copy. Valid only on day of Print: [date]
Page updated on [date/time] 2019-01-02 10:11 AM
© , Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion