Private Drinking Water
Testing Private Drinking Water
Private drinking water sources (mainly wells or surface water) have the potential to be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals, metals and minerals. Any of these may cause illness and could be fatal. Water quality can change with the seasons and be affected by weather. Public health recommends testing at least 3 times a year, after any work is done on your well or water system and after significant weather events such as a fast thaw or severe rain storm. People who use water from private supplies should know how to test their drinking water and what type of water source they have and how to protect it.
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Ontario residents who use a private drinking water system (not a municipal system) can test it for bacterial contamination free of charge. Please see the grey bruce health unit video to see how to take your water sample. Tests for other contaminants (chemicals, metals, minerals) must be completed at a private laboratory.
Nitrate testing is recommended, especially if you have an infant that will be consuming the water. Nitrates above 10 milligrams per litre of water can cause a condition known as methemoglobinemia or "blue-baby syndrome" by limiting the ability of blood to carry oxygen. High nitrate levels are usually a result of fertilizing fields or septic seepage. Tests for other nitrates contaminants must be completed at a private laboratory.
Public health inspectors can help you interpret the results of bacteriological analysis and advise you on corrective measures. Please call us at 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, or email us for assistance. Public Health Ontario has lots of information on private drinking water testing.
Water sampling and results