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 operated by provincial government.
Procedure for water samples
How do I collect water samples?
Water samples must be collected using sterilized plastic bottles available from any Access PEI site or the PEI Analytical Laboratories (noted below). Follow these steps to collect the sample:
- When possible, collect samples from an indoor faucet. An outdoor faucet is acceptable if the garden hose is removed before the sample is collected. It's best to collect water samples in the morning and immediately deliver to one of the drop-off locations. However, laboratories will accept samples within 24 hours if the sample is kept refrigerated.
- Keep the sealed cover on the bottle until you collect the sample. The white powder inside the bottle is a chemical dechlorinating agent, called sodium thiosulfate, that neutralizes residual chlorine so that 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 or flame under the outlet to kill any bacteria present.
- Allow the cold water to run at full flow for 10 to 15 minutes and then back off the flow to a slow steady stream.
- With clean hands, fill the sample bottle to the neck or fill line, being careful not to touch the bottle to the tap. Tightly secure the cover. To prevent false results, do not touch the inside of the cap of the top of the bottle.
- Complete the Request for Drinking Water Analysis form indicating that the sample is for a tourist accommodation, include the establishment’s name and sign the form.
- Deliver the sample and the form to any location noted below. If the sample cannot be delivered immediately, place it in a cooler or bag with ice to keep the temperature at or below 15 °C (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) 368-5014 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 at any of the following locations before 3:30 pm Monday to Thursday and before noon on Friday:
- 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; seasonally May to September)
What is the cost for a water test?
See Water Analysis Fee Schedule for current prices.
How do I get my water test results?
You will receive results of your water sample by mail. It is very important to check off 'tourism operator' on the request form so that Tourism PEI compliance staff can access your results electronically to ensure compliance.
Procedure when water test problems occur
What happens if results show a problem with the quality 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, Department of Health and Wellness. In order for a boil water advisory to be lifted, you must have two consecutive water samples that are clear, with at least one day between sampling. If you have a working UV treatment device on your well, only one clear re-sample is needed. Environmental Health will notify you, as soon as possible, when the boil water advisory is lifted.
If your drinking water is contaminated with bacteria, it is essential to follow the steps outlined below to prevent your guests from becoming ill.
What do I have to tell my guests if a problem is detected?
If you receive a boil water advisory, you must post a notice at each tap, faucet or source of water supply at your tourism accommodation to indicate that the water is not fit for human consumption. Download a sample boil water advisory for guests.
What else should I do to ensure everyone's health and safety?
You should provide staff and guests with these directions to ensure everyone stays well.
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 the following:
- 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 or 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 percent household bleach to an average-sized tub half filled with water. Mix and let stand for 15 minutes before bathing.
- Wash hands with boiled or 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?
- Disinfect your well each year, especially after periods of inactivity.
- If there are any changes in taste, odour or appearance or water, get it tested immediately.
- 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.
If you need advice on your water samples or with water challenges, contact:
Tourism Water Quality Advisor
Quality Tourism Services