Non-Potable Water Testing – Official Agencies
|Test Requested||Required Requisition(s)||Specimen Type||Minimum Volume||Collection Kit|
Total coliform and E. coli; HPC upon request
200 ml (to the fill line on the bottle)
PHO laboratory water collection bottle
Submission and Collection Notes
Non-potable water submitted by an Official Agency (i.e., public health unit or Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Ontario Park).
Water collected in a PHO laboratories collection bottle. Samples suspected of being contaminated with sewage must be submitted in the Sewage Sample Collection Kit.
For sampling, follow the instructions found in Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing.
Complete the required information on the requisition. The sample will not be tested if all of the required information is not complete or accurate when received at the laboratory.
Remove one of the barcodes on the bottle and apply it to the top copy of the requisition in the “Barcode” field.
Remove a second barcode and apply it in the corresponding location on the second copy of the form. Samples will not be processed if the barcodes are not affixed to the top copy of the requisition. If the barcode is not able to be removed, write the barcode number on the form.
Timing of Specimen Collection
Ensure adequate time to collect and transport the sample to the laboratory. It must be tested within 48 hours of collection.
Samples will not be tested if the acceptance criteria are not met. Refer to the Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing.
Preparation Prior to Transport
Retain a copy of the completed requisition that includes the barcodes. Specimens should be stored at 2-8 °C following collection and shipped to PHO laboratory inside insulated containers or in a cooler. Pack with frozen ice packs. Samples received at the laboratory above 25 °C will not be tested. Do not freeze samples.
Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection and shipped to PHO laboratory inside insulated containers or in a cooler. Pack with frozen ice packs. Samples must be shipped within 24 hours of collection. Samples suspected of being contaminated with sewage must be submitted in the Sewage Sample Collection Kit.
Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)
Non-potable water testing is routinely performed daily Monday to Friday. Samples of an urgent nature (e.g. STAT) will be processed and read with no undue delay. Please contact the laboratory directly prior to submission for STATs.
The turnaround time is up to 4 days for Total Coliform and E. coli, up to 5 days for HPC and P. aeruginosa and up to 6 days for S. aureus.
STAT and Critical Samples Testing
STAT samples must be identified with “STAT” on the requisition.
Results are reported to the submitter as indicated on the requisition. Drinking water submitted under an Ontario drinking water regulation is reported as per the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002.
Non-potable water samples are tested by the Membrane Filtration or Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) method using the Spread Plate method depending on the analysis required.
Public Health Ontario Laboratory sites hold a drinking water testing license (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) and drinking water tests, which are limited to the scope of testing, are accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation Inc. (CALA) to ISO 17025.