Health and Community Services

Drinking Water Quality

In Newfoundland and Labrador the majority of people receive drinking water from sources that are owned and operated by a municipality or local service district. These supplies are known as public community water supplies.

Some residents of the Province do not obtain their drinking water from public water supplies but instead have their own water source located on their property. This type of supply is called a private water supply and typically is either a drilled or dug well.

Public Water Supplies

Bacteriological Quality Testing

Environmental Health Officers, with the Government Service Centre, Department of Government Services, collect water samples and conduct chlorine residual testing from public water supplies monthly.

^ Top of Page

What is tested?

Officers test drinking water for the presence of a group of organisms which are indicators of fecal contamination and/or inadequate disinfection of drinking water. The indicators are total coliforms and Escherichia coli.

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 and 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 contamination of drinking water.

For more information on bacteriological water quality indicators go to Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality Opens in new window

^ Top of Page

Water Quality in My Community

The results of bacteriological testing of public water supplies are forwarded to the municipal council office responsible for the water supply. To obtain the most recent results for your community, please call your municipal council office.

^ Top of Page

Boil Water Advisory

A boil water advisory is necessary when testing, or some other circumstance, has identified the potential for disease causing organisms (e.g., bacteria) to be present in the public water supply. A boil water advisory is typically recommended by the regional Medical Officer of Health or an Environmental Health Officer.

The following boil water advisory information may be useful to you.

  1. Boil water advisory pamphlet for residents PDF (251KB)
  2. Les avis de faire bouillir l'eau PDF (293 KB)
  3. Boil water advisory pamphlet for municipal officials PDF (391KB)

To view an up-to-date boil water advisory list, go to: Department of Environment and Conservation - Boil Water Advisories

^ Top of Page

Finding Chemical Water Quality Information

Information on the chemical quality of your public water supply can be obtained from your municipal council office or from the Department of Environment and Conservation at:

^ Top of Page

Private Water Supplies

Bacteriological Quality Testing of Private Water Supplies

Testing of private water supplies is the responsibility of the owner of the supply.

Samples for bacteriological testing must be collected in sterile sample bottles and can be submitted to either the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Health Laboratory at the Miller Centre in St. John's or at a Government Service Centre location nearest you. Samples bottles are available at the Public Health Laboratory and Government Service Centre locations.

Environmental Health Officers with the Government Service Centre are available to interpret the test results for you. If the testing of your drinking water determines that the water is unsafe for consumption you will be notified immediately and advised to boil the water.

For information about the bacteriological water quality of private water supplies, please consider the following resources.

  1. A Guide to Safe Drinking Water PDF (1 MB)
  2. Sanitary Dug Well PDF (197 KB)
  3. Well Aware Opens in new window

Remember not to consume water from roadside springs.PDF (356 KB) The chemical and bacteriological quality of roadside spring water is unknown and may contain disease-causing micro-organisms or chemical contaminants.

^ Top of Page

Drinking Water Information

In addition to the drinking water information presented above, the Public Health Division has produced additional resources which are aimed at preventing or controlling illness caused by drinking contaminated water. Items available are listed below.

  1. Arsenic PDF (139 KB)
  2. Lead PDF (143 KB)
  3. Chlorination and Disinfection By-Products PDF (412 KB)
  4. Roadside Springs PDF (356 KB)
  5. L'eau de source en bordure de route PDF (439 KB)
  6. Giardia PDF (231KB)
  7. Home Drinking Water Treatment Units PDF (193 KB)
  8. Les dispositifs de traitement de l'eau à domicile PDF (238 KB)
  9. Cross Connections PDF (200 KB)
  10. Collecting and Storing Your Water Safely (Information for Users of Potable Water Dispensing Units) PDF (512 KB)

^ Top of Page


In addition to the information available above, the following websites provide additional drinking water quality information that you may find useful.

^ Top of Page

Adobe® Acrobat® Reader software can be used for viewing PDF documents. Download Acrobat® Reader for free opens new window

Last Updated:
This page and all contents are copyright, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, all rights reserved.