Water Testing Overview

Why Should Drinking Water Be Tested For Bacteria?

Several germs that cause disease in humans are carried by humans and animals in their gut and excreted in feces. Drinking water can become contaminated with human or animal feces by surface run-off, septic tank malfunction, etc. When fecal contamination occurs, there is potential for disease causing germs to be present. Therefore, it is important to ensure there is no fecal contaminaton of drinking water.


How is Drinking Water Quality Tested for Bacterial Quality?

Indicator bacteria are used to assess the bacterial quality of drinking water. These are “Total Coliforms” and “Fecal Coliform E.coli”.


Why Are Coliform Bacteria Used for Testing Drinking Water?

Total coliforms are a group of bacteria that are naturally present in the environment. They are used as an indicator of overall water quality and the effectiveness of drinking water disinfection. E. coli, a fecal coliform, orginates only in the intestine of humans and animals, and is regularly excreted in feces in abundant numbers. Therefore, E. coli is used as an indicator of fecal contamination of drinking water. The above indicator bacteria are used as universal indicators of drinking water quality because it is neither practical nor feasible to test for individual disease causing organisms in drinking water.


Do Indicator Bacteria Cause Disease?

No, neither total coliforms nor the fecal coliform E. coli, by themselves, cause gastrointestinal disease in humans. The fecal coliform E. coli that makes up the natural intestinal microbial population does not cause waterborne or foodborne illness. However, the presence of the indicator bacteria suggests a potential for disease causing organisms to be in the drinking water.


What Are Some Disease Causing Organisms That May Be Present in Drinking Water?

Whan the fecal coliform E. coli is present, there is a potential for disease causing organisms to be present. These include germs like Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli 0157 and Giardia. Adequate treatment (e.g., disinfection) of municipal drinking water sources and the proper construction and location of private wells should prevent fecal contamination.


How Can I Have My Drinking Water Tested?

Water sample collection kits can be obtained from the Public Health Laboratory at the Miller Centre (First Floor) on Forest Road in St. John’s or a Service NL centre in your area. Please refer to the Bacteriological Water Analysis Request/Report form for instructions on the collection of water samples and the submission of samples for testing.


How Do I Obtain My Water Test Results?


Each performing site throughout the province will mail out a  written copy of your report to the address indicated on your requisition.



For samples submitted directly to the Public Health Lab, you are able to obtain your water test results 24 hours per day, 7 days per week using our automated system:


Telephone Instructions:

  1. Dial PHL # 709-777-6583 two business days after your test (results will be available on the system for 2 weeks thereafter).
  2. Follow the automated menu instructions for the PUBLIC and WATER TEST Results
  3. Enter provider code 2118 followed by the # key.
  4. After Newfoundland & Labrador Public Health Laboratory is verified, press 1.
  5. Enter the barcode number attached to the front of the requisition form followed by the # key.


Internet Instructions

  1. Go to https://result.patientresult.com two business days after test (results will be available online for 2 weeks thereafter).
  2. Your username is 2118.
  3. Your password is the barcode number attached to the front of the requisition form.
  4. Click view to read the message.
  5. Click the red X in the top right corner to log out.


More On Water Testing

What Does Your Water Report Mean?

What To Do If You Have An Unsatisfactory or Substandard Test Result?



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