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Water Testing

Testing your drinking water in Alberta

​​​​​​​What types of water samples does Alberta Health Services test?

Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health (EPH) will only test water samples that come from a water supply that people use for drinking, like your well water.

    Alberta Health Services does not test samples that come from city or town water sources.

What types of water samples won’t be tested?

EPH won’t test water samples for reasons that have to do with:

  • real estate
  • research
  • farming (agriculture)
  • business

You need to send these types of water samples to a commercial lab and pay for the testing.

EPH will also not test water from town or city (municipal) water sources. Towns and cities (municipalities) test their water regularly for safety. Find water quality reports for your town or city from Alberta Environment and Parks. You may also contact your municipal office for drinking water test results.

What kinds of tests are there for my drinking water supply?

There are 2 types of tests for your drinking water supply:

  • A bacteria test looks for 2 types of harmful bacteria (total coliform and E. coli).
  • A chemical and trace metals test looks for common chemicals and trace metals found in water.

How often should I test my water?

You should test your water for bacteria 2 times each year.

You should test your water for chemicals and trace metals every 3 years. Contact a public health inspector if you would like to test your water more often.

What should I do if I think my drinking water is not safe?

If you think your drinking water is not safe, do not use it until testing shows that your water is safe. Use bottled water instead.

Contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health for more information.

Where can I get a water sample bottle and drop off my sample?

Water sample bottles are available at many Alberta Health Services facilities. Contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health​ to find out where to pick up and drop off water sample bottles.

How do I collect a water sample?

The sample bottle comes with instructions for how to take a water sample. Follow these instructions carefully. You also need to fill out a requisition form correctly and include it with your water sample.

Following the instructions will help you fill out the requisition form correctly and make sure that your water sample is not contaminated. Contamination means that other germs get into your water sample, which could change your test results.

You must get your water sample:

  • using the approved sample bottle
  • from your cold water supply line
  • before your water goes through any type of water treatment, like a water softener, iron filter, reverse osmosis, water distiller, carbon filter, or point-of-use filter

How can I make sure my water sample is not contaminated?

Follow the instructions that come with your samlpe bottle.

Do not:

  • open the sample bottle until you’re ready to collect your sample
  • rinse the sample bottle
  • let water overflow or splash down the side of the bottle
  • put the bottle cap on a countertop (it can get contaminated)
  • touch the inside of the cap, mouth, or neck of the bottle
  • collect samples from a garden hose, outside tap, or other places that might be dirty

How long can I keep my water sample before dropping it off for testing?

When testing for bacteria, the sample needs to be as fresh as possible. Collect the water sample, put it in a cooler filled with ice packs, and take it to the drop-off location right away. This is important because if your water sample is more than 24 hours old, EPH will not test it.

Before collecting your sample, find out what day and time you can return your sample to your water sample bottle drop off location.

How do I find out my test results?

Alberta Health Services will mail the results to the address you give on the requisition form. If the results show that your water might not be safe, a public health inspector will call you. Make sure the daytime phone number you put on the requisition form is the best number to reach you.

When will I get the results?

  • Bacteria test: It takes 2 to 3 days for your water sample to get tested. Alberta Health Services will mail you the results after this.
  • Chemical and trace metals test: It takes 6 to 8 weeks for your water sample to get tested. Alberta Health Services will mail you the results after this.

How do I find out my well ID and well depth?

The requisition form asks for your well ID and well depth. There are a few ways to get this information:

Current as of: November 19, 2021

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services