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Drinking water emergency

 

 

 

 

Safe drinking water is vital to our health and quality of life. In Waterloo Region, we are fortunate to have access to high quality drinking water.

The majority of people in Waterloo Region rely on municipally supplied drinking water. These water supplies are sampled regularly to ensure quality and safety. Residents on municipally supplied drinking water often live in urban or suburban areas, including smaller towns.

Residents outside of urban areas rely on private wells for their drinking water. These citizens often live in rural or agricultural areas. 

Drinking water testing

Municipally supplied drinking water is rigorously tested according to strict provincial laws to ensure it is clean and safe.

Private well water testing is the responsibility of the well owner. Testing services are free and easily accessible throughout Waterloo Region.

To have your well water tested you can pick-up bottles at any location listed on the poster below.  You can then drop off your bottle for testing any day of the week during regular business hours for testing.

Chart of Rural water testing

How to test your well water for E. coli and total coliforms (Free of Charge)

  1. Pick up an empty bacteriological water bottle at any location during regular office/ business hours. Click on each location's address to see a map.
  2. Take a water sample using the instructions provided on the form (wrapped around testing bottle). Do not freeze the sample or take a sample from springs, ponds, lakes, rivers or any other unprotected source (unless treated for drinking purposes)
  3. Fill out the submission form. Make sure that the form is completed fully as outlined in the instructions. Your water sample will not be tested if the form is not completed.
  4. Drop off your water sample and completed form at any location within 24 hours of taking the sample.
  5. Results are usually available from the Ontario Ministry of Health Public Health Laboratory within 48 hours of dropping off your water sample. The form contains instructions to access your water sample results. A resident can access their results in-person, by phone, or by mail.

NOTE:

A Public Health Inspector will follow-up / notify resident if any of the following occurs:

  • A test result is positive for the presence of E. coli
  • A water sample was not tested due to incomplete information on the submission form
  • A water sample was not tested due to sample being older than 48 hours

If the safety of your water is compromised, you will receive a Boil Water Advisory.  Read how to use water safely during such advisory. 

 Additional information

For best practices on keeping your well water safe, please see the What's in your Well? or Water Testing resources from Health Canada and Public Health Ontario, respectively.

Contact Public Health for more information on private well water safety tips or sample results interpretation at 519-575-4400.

Related Fact Sheets and Forms

Nitrates Fact Sheet 
Bacteria Water Sample Submission Form & Instructions
Nitrate / Fluoride Water Sample Submission Form & Instructions

 Useful links

Region of Waterloo Water Services - provides resources and information on our region's water services

Drinking Water Ontario - provides resources and information on our province's drinking water

Health Canada - provides resources and information on requirements for keeping drinking water safe

List of Licensed Laboratories - provides a list of laboratories that are licensed to test drinking water in Ontario

WellAware.ca - provides resources and information for private home well owners

Ministry of Environment - provides further information for well owners

 

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Need a reminder to test your private well water?  Sign up here for a free email reminder, three times a year (generally spring, summer and fall)

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