Testing of Drinking Water

Do I need to have my drinking water tested?

It is generally recommended that homeowners using drinking water from their own well should get their water tested for bacteria at least once a year and should have a chemical analysis of their well water done when a new well is first drilled, and every 2 years there after.

What if I notice a change in my water?

It is also recommended that you test your water any time you notice a significant change in the taste, smell, or appearance of the water. In addition to these considerations, if you are buying, selling, or re-mortgaging a house, you should speak with your lawyer, lending institution, and/or real estate agent as specific water testing may be required.

What responsibilities do tourism operators have to ensure safe drinking water? 

Tourism operators, who rely on private water wells, are required by law to have their water supply tested for the presence of bacteria. This testing must be done every three months, or part thereof, during a calendar year when the tourism establishment is open to guests.

What type of testing is available for drinking water?

Water testing services are provided for a variety of clients through the PEI Analytical Laboratories. Water quality results are assessed according to the recommendations of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality published by Health Canada. 

Testing for bacteria

Bacteria testing measures both total coliform and E. coli. Bacteria tests provide a general indication of the condition of the well and plumbing system. They also help to identify contamination by more serious sources of bacteria, such as sewage or manure. 

Testing for chemistry

Chemistry testing measures the most common chemicals found in drinking water on PEI, that are important to human health or for aesthetic considerations.  

How do I test my drinking water?

Sample bottles and sample submission forms

First, you need to get the proper bottles and complete a sample submission form. Sample bottles and sample submission forms are available at the PEI Analytical Laboratories in Charlottetown, or at any one of the Access PEI Sites across the province.  Information on the proper sample collection procedure is printed on the reverse side of the sample submission form.  Please note: if the occupant of the home is different than the owner or person submitting the sample, it is important to ensure that the occupant's name and phone number are included on the sample submission form so they may be contacted directly if needed.

Sample submission

Once the sample has been collected, it may be dropped off at the PEI Analytical Laboratories from Monday to Thursday during normal business hours and Friday until 3:00 p.m., or for clients outside of the Charlottetown area, at your nearest Access PEI Site by 3:00 p.m. (12 noon on Fridays) on the same day the sample is collected. You should check the Access Site Sample Pick-up Schedule web page, as sample pick up days are different from site to site. 

Results of the analysis

Depending upon the type of analysis being requested, the time required for a report to be issued will vary. Bacteria sample results are typically available in two days. Results for chemical analysis are typically available within 10 business days. 

What does it cost to have my drinking water tested?

As of January 1, 2022 Islanders with residential well water will be able to access free bacterial and general chemistry testing for their drinking water.

A complete list of testing and fees is available.  


Published date: 
February 5, 2024