Water Testing for Tourism Accommodation Operators
As a tourism accommodation operator, the Tourism Industry Act requires you to test your water every three months for the period you are open unless you are on a municipal water system.
Who conducts the water tests?
Tests must be carried out by a laboratory accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. In PEI there is only one lab accredited: the PEI Analytical Lab, which is part of the Water Management Division of the Department of Communities, Land and Environment.
How do I collect water samples?
Water samples must be collected using sterilized plastic bottles available at any Access PEI site or at the PEI Analytical Laboratories (noted below). Follow these steps to collect the sample:
- Whenever possible, collect samples from an indoor faucet. An outdoor faucet is acceptable if the garden hose is removed before the sample is collected. It is best to collect water samples in the morning and deliver them directly to one of the drop-off locations. However, the laboratories will accept samples within 24 hours if the sample is kept refrigerated.
- The sealed cover must stay on the bottle until you collect the sample. The white powder inside the bottle is a chemical called sodium-thiosulfate, and is a dechlorinating agent that neutralizes residual chlorine so it does not interfere with true bacteria. Do not dump out this powder.
- Remove the strainer/aerator assembly from the end of your faucet, including the rubber o-ring. Swab the end of the faucet with a mixture of bleach and water; or, quickly pass a lighter/flame under the outlet of the tap to kill any bacteria that may be present.
- Allow the cold water to run full flow for 10-15 minutes. Then back off the water to a slow steady stream.
- Make sure your hands are clean before taking the sample. Fill the sample bottle to the neck or fill line, being careful not to touch the bottle to the tap or to overflow the bottle. Tightly secure the cover on the bottle. In order to prevent false results, do not touch the inside of the cap of the top of the bottle.
- Fill out the Request Form for Drinking Water Analysis (link needed) and indicate the sample as ‘Tourism Accommodation.’ Check ‘Yes’ next to ‘Is this a tourist accommodation?’ and include the establishment’s name. You must also provide your signature in the field below.
- Deliver the sample and the completed form to one of the locations noted below. If the sample cannot be delivered immediately, it should be kept in a cooler or bag with ice to keep the temperature at or below 15 °C (but not freezing).
What type of water test do I need?
A bacterial analysis is needed to determine if your water is safe to drink. If your water changes in taste, colour or appearance, a chemical analysis should be conducted. Contact the Drinking Water and Wastewater Division at (902) 368-5028 or toll-free at 1-866-368-5044 for more information.
Where do I drop off my water samples to be tested?
Water samples can be dropped off at: (location links required)
- Access PEI Summerside (Monday to Friday)
- Access PEI O’Leary (Monday to Friday)
- Access PEI Montague (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
- Access PEI Souris (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
- Access PEI Tignish (Tuesday)
- Access PEI Alberton (Tuesday)
- Access PEI Wellington (Tuesday)
- PEI Analytical Laboratory (Monday to Friday)
- Cavendish Visitor Information Centre (Monday to Friday; seasonal May to September)
NOTE: Samples are accepted at the above locations before 3:30 pm Monday to Thursday and before 12 noon on Friday.
Is there a cost to have my water tested?
The cost for bacterial analysis of drinking water is $35 (plus HST). A full chemistry analysis costs $85 (plus HST). Re-samples are $5 each (plus HST) for private well owners, if taken within 60 days.
How do I get my water test results?
You will receive printed copies of your water sample results by mail from the Water Management Division of the Department of Communities, Land and Environment. It is very important that you check off tourism operator on your form so the Compliance Division of Tourism PEI can access your results electronically and ensure your tourism accommodation is compliant with the Act.
What happens if a water test shows a problem with the quality and/or safety of my site’s water?
If your water sample results in high levels of bacteria, you will be issued a Boil Water Advisory by Environmental Health division of the Department of Health and Wellness. Two consecutive clear water samples, with at least one day in between sampling, are required to lift a Boil Water Advisory. If you have a working UV treatment device on your well, only one clear re-sample is needed.
If your drinking water is contaminated with bacteria, it is essential to follow the steps outlined in the question below to keep your guests from getting ill.
Environmental Health will notify you, as soon as possible, when the Boil Water Advisory has been lifted.
What do I have to tell my guests if a problem is detected?
If you receive a Boil Water Advisory, you must post notices at each tap, faucet, or source of water supply at your tourism accommodation that indicate the water is not fit for human consumption. You can also view a sample Boil Water Advisory letter to guests.
You should also follow these directions to prevent your guests from getting sick:
Drinking Water and Food Preparation:
Bring all drinking water to a rolling boil for two minutes. Do not rely on automatic shut off kettles as they do not boil the water long enough to be safe. Boil all water used for:
- Washing fruits or raw vegetables
- Ice cubes
- Brushing teeth
- Preparing baby formula
- Making juices or preparing tea or coffee
Bottled water is acceptable for use and should be made available at a front desk/office area.
DO NOT use point-of-use treatment filter devices that fit onto taps as they do not eliminate bacteria.
- Avoid getting water in your mouth during a shower.
- Disinfect water for bathing by adding one ounce (30 ml) of 5.25 per cent household bleach to an average sized tub half filled with water. Mix and let stand for 15 minutes before bathing.
- Wash hands with boiled/bottled water or thoroughly wipe hands with an alcohol-based antiseptic wipe.
- Apply a liquid hand sanitizer to hands.
- Immerse hands in water disinfected with liquid household bleach (one teaspoon per litre of water) for a few seconds.
- Dishes may be safely washed in hot water and dish detergent. Once dishes are washed, fully rinse and then treat the dishes by soaking them for a minimum of two minutes in a solution of one ounce (30ml) liquid household bleach to three gallons (15 L) of water – an average sink full of water.
- Residential dishwashers may be used by adding one ounce (30ml) liquid household bleach to the final rinse cycle. If you don’t know when the final rinse cycle takes place, then soak the dishes as described above.
What can I do to keep my well clean and clear of bacteria?
- Annually disinfect your well, (this link is pointing to the old site; download this pdf and load to Drupal site as a publication) especially after periods of inactivity.
- Test water immediately if there are any changes in taste, odour or appearance.
- Inspect the well cap and joints for cracks. It is important to maintain a tight vermin-proof seal.
- Make sure the grade of the land slopes away from the well, and that water does not pool around the surface of the well.
Who can I contact for more information?
If you need advice with your water samples or water challenges please contact:
Tourism Water Quality Advisor
Quality Tourism Services
Phone: (902) 566-3501
Fax: (902) 566-3575