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Water Testing

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has received reports of door-to-door salespeople misleading consumers into buying water purification equipment. No one coming to your door is authorized to perform health-based tests on your drinking water. If you have any concerns about water safety, contact your local municipality or call the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.

If you believe you may have been misled by a door-to-door water testing equipment salesperson, visit the drinking water portion of the Ontario Provincial Website.

Drinking water is tested for the presence of two groups of bacteria, total coliform bacteria and E.Coli bacteria. Your results are the number of bacteria in 100 millilitres of your water sample.

Follow these steps to sample your well or cistern water for bacteria, it’s easy and free:

Instructions are also included with your water sample bottle. Each step is important to ensure accurate sample results.

  1. Pick up your water sample bottle from any of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit offices (see below).
  2. Remove the screen and other attachments from your tap BEFORE sampling.
  3. Disinfect the end of the faucet with an alcohol wipe or dilute bleach solution (1 part unscented household bleach (5.25%) to 10 parts water).
  4. Run the cold tap for two or three minutes before collecting your sample.
  • Do not rinse the bottle before filling it.
  • Do not touch the inner surface of the cap or the bottle with anything other than the water collected.
  1. Fill the water sample bottle to the 200 ml fill line (maximum amount) without changing the water flow.
  2. Re-cap the bottle right away.
  3. Fill out the form that came with the bottle (Public Health Ontario Bacteriological Analysis of Drinking Water Submission Form). Ensure the form is complete and accurate.
  4. Indicate on the form if you want to get your results by mail or phone or pick your results up at the laboratory (please note the laboratory is located in Hamilton, ON).
  5. Keep your sample refrigerated (do not freeze) and keep it cool while in transit to a drop-off location. Submit your sample to the Health Unit as soon as possible and within 24 hours of taking the sample. The freshness and temperature of your sample is essential for accurate testing.
  6. Drop off your sample at any Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit location.

Drinking Water Sample Pick-up and Drop-off Locations in Haldimand-Norfolk:

Free sample bottles are available at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit office locations. Pick up bottles and drop off your water samples for testing at any locations listed below from Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Please note that samples are not accepted on Fridays. Lab analysis must occur within two days of receiving the sample and cannot be sent on a Friday or over the weekend.

185 Robinson St
Simcoe, Ontario
519-426-6170 or
100 Haddington St.
Caledonia, Ontario
117 Forest Street E.
Dunnville, Ontario

More about total coliform and E.Coli

  • Testing for bacteria includes two groups: total coliform bacteria and E. coli bacteria.
  • Your results are the number of bacteria of each group in 100 millilitres of your water sample.
  • Total coliform bacteria are always present in animal waste and sewage but also in soil and vegetation.
  • Coli bacteria are only found in the intestinal contents of warm-blooded animals. This means when E. coli is present in your water, it has been contaminated by a nearby human or animal sewage source. E. coli bacteria tend to die more quickly outside the body; therefore, their presence in water indicates relatively recent contamination.
  • The presence of total coliform and the absence of E. coli bacteria may indicate a surface water contamination or a more remote sewage contamination.

Testing for other contaminants

  • Private well owners may benefit from having their water supply tested for additional contaminants beyond the total coliform, and E. coli covered in the free water analysis provided by the Health Unit.
  • For a list of licensed laboratories in Ontario that will test your drinking water supply for contaminants, including Microbiological, Organic Chemical, Radio analytical, Inorganic Chemical and Physical/Other, please call ext. 3477.
  • There will be a fee associated with additional testing.

Interpreting your sample results

What do your water test results mean?

Total Coliforms
What it means
SAFE for drinking. Maintain regular testing.
Three samples with these results, collected one to three weeks apart, indicate a bacteriologically
safe supply, if the supply is protected and located at least 15 m (50 ft.) for a drilled well
or 30 m (100 ft.) for other types of wells from any source of human or animal waste. Repeat
samples may not show exactly the same results because bacteria are not distributed uniformly
in water. Contamination tends to enter intermittently.
6 to >80
UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated. Common with new wells before disinfection
and shallow dug wells that are not properly sealed.
1 to >80
1 to >80
UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated. The water is contaminated and should not be
used for drinking under any circumstance. The contamination is likely due to waste of human
or animal origin.
UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated. Number has been estimated due to some
interference with the test. Exact number is not critical for judging safety, especially if in excess
of limits shown above.
UNSAFE for drinking unless boiled or treated. Test was overgrown with non-coliform bacteria,
making the coliform results unclear. Collect another sample. If condition persists, consult
a Public Health Inspector. This condition frequently occurs with new wells, dug wells receiving
soil drainage or wells that have been idle for some time.

If you have any questions about collecting and submitting a water sample or how to read your sample results please contact the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623 to speak with a Public Health Inspector.