Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Drinking Water

Sample Collection and Preservation - Chemical/Physical Quality

Sample Collection – Chemical Quality

Well water should be tested every two years for chemical contaminants to ensure it is safe for drinking.

Basic sample instructions

  • Get sample bottle(s) and submission form from an accredited laboratory and follow the lab’s instructions for taking a water sample.
  • For additional or specialized parameters such as organic compounds, make sure you discuss the requirements with the lab or a trained professional before sampling.
  • Flush your water system by allowing the water to run for 10 minutes. This helps remove stagnant water that may have artificially high metal concentrations from the system.
  • Take the water sample from a cold water tap that is regularly used for drinking water, such as the kitchen tap. If you have a treatment system, taking a sample at the tap will tell you if the treatment system is working.
  • You may want to take a sample of your untreated water to determine if treatment is needed and help you choose a treatment system. Take this sample as near the pressure tank as possible, prior to any treatment device. If this is not possible, set your treatment system to bypass mode while you take the sample.
  • Label the bottle with the water supply owner's name and the sampling location, date, and time.
  • Make sure all information on the sample submission form is filled out completely. Registered water supply owners must also record the registration number.
  • Samples should be kept cool in a refrigerator or cooler with ice packs until delivered to the lab. Samples should be kept in the dark. Samples should not be frozen.
  • Transport the sample to the lab as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.

Sampling for Lead

  • Because the main source of lead in drinking water is through corrosion of plumbing materials, you should check the level of lead after water has been sitting in your pipes.
  • Before taking a sample for lead, do not use the water for about six hours (such as overnight). This allows the water to stagnate so that your sample will show how much (if any) lead is leaching from the plumbing.
  • Take the water sample according to the lab’s instructions.

How can I find out more information?

Call the nearest Nova Scotia Environment office at 1-877-9ENVIRO (1-877-936-8476).