Small drinking water systems are businesses or premises that supply their own water, typically through a private well or cistern, and allow the public access to the water, such as:
- Hotels / motels
- Seasonal trailer parks or campgrounds
- Places of worship
- Recreational facilities
- Municipal airports and offices
- Public washrooms
Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency services is required to routinely inspect these systems, respond to adverse water quality incidents and investigate complaints.
Taking a water sample
- Pick up a drinking water sample bottle from your private laboratory
- Check the bottle to ensure that the seal is intact and lid is not broken
- Water samples should be taken on the same day they are delivered to the laboratory
- If unable to take the sample the same day, it must be submitted within 24 hours. Samples greater than 24 hours will not be suitable for testing
- Taking the sample
- Ensure your hands are clean. Good handwashing or the use of alcohol based hand rubs will help prevent contamination of the sample
- Remove any aerators, screens, or other attachments from the faucet
- Do not take a sample from an outside faucet or the garden hose
- Turn on the cold water and let it run for two to three minutes
- Turn off the water and disinfect the faucet
- Swab the end of the faucet spout with an alcohol swab (70% isopropyl) or use diluted bleach solution (one part household bleach to 10 parts water) to remove debris or bacteria
- Turn on the cold water again and let it run for two to three minutes
- Remove the lid of the sample bottle and fill the bottle
- Do not touch the inside of the lid, put down the lid, or rinse out the bottle
- Fill the bottle to the level that is marked and close the lid firmly
- Complete the submission form. Ensure the form includes your small drinking water system number and emergency contact information
- Transporting the sample
- Water samples should be kept refrigerated (not frozen)
- Transport the sample in a cooler with ice packs
- Adverse water quality incidents
- An adverse water quality incident is when a drinking water sample shows high levels of bacterial (or chemical) contamination. The presence of these bacteria is an indication of the entry of surface water or fecal contamination. Bacterial contamination may be a health risk to the users of your small drinking water system.
- The laboratory will contact the owner/operator of the system and Public Health. You are required to contact Public Health regarding any adverse results. A public health inspector will provide direction on corrective actions.
Disinfect a system
When water sample results show the presence of bacteria (Total Coliforms and/or E. coli), it is necessary to disinfect the well/cistern and resample. These pathogens may have been introduced during maintenance, alterations, repairs, or they may indicate that surface water is entering the well/cistern.
A disinfection process is used to inactivate these bacteria. If repeat samples continue to show contamination, a treatment system may be required or the current treatment system is not working properly.