Results for routine bacteriological testing should be available one day after the sample is received. Chemical and physical testing results are usually available in two weeks. The results are mailed to you.
When submitting emergency samples, please contact the laboratory in advance to make a special arrangement.
What are Total Coliforms
Total coliforms are a group of bacteria that are used as the principal indicator for the sanitary quality of water. The presence of any coliform bacteria indicates that the water is unsafe for human consumption.
How to Disinfect Your Water Supply from Coliform Bacteria
If your drinking water supply contains coliform bacteria, it must be disinfected prior to consumption. Refer to SaskH2O for details. Boiling water for several minutes will kill bacteria present in the water. If you require specific information on your water supplies, please contact the public health inspector in your health region.
What is Nitrate
Nitrate is a stable, oxidized form of nitrogen. Sources of nitrate in water include agricultural fertilizers, domestic sewage, animal manure, decaying matter and natural geological formations. The Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality has set 45 mg/L as the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC), based primarily on a condition known as "infantile methemoglobinemia." Specifically, nitrate reduces the ability of blood to transport oxygen to body tissues, resulting in cyanosis or "blue baby syndrome." In extreme cases, this condition has been reported to be fatal.
How to Remove Nitrate from Your Drinking Water
Nitrate can be removed from water by distillation or reverse osmosis filtration. Some ion-exchange filters have been found to successfully remove significant quantities of nitrate. Boiling water will NOT decrease the nitrate concentration in the water. Blending water that has high nitrate levels with water that has lower concentrations is also a common practice to reduce nitrate in drinking water.
How to Determine if Your Water is Safe to Drink
The regular routine bacteriological and nitrate tests indicate that the water is safe ONLY with respect to contamination by coliform bacteria and nitrate. It does not indicate anything else regarding the quality or safety of the water supply. For example, water that is found to be acceptable for bacteria and nitrate may contain pesticides or arsenic. It is impractical and expensive to test all private water supplies for all possible contaminants. If a problem is suspected or you have a concern regarding the safety of the water supply, further specific types of testing can be requested. Contact the public health inspector in your health region for specific advice.
Home Water Treatment Devices
There are many different water treatment devices available. The type that should be used depends upon several factors including the quality of the water source and what you want to remove from the water. Contact the public health inspector in your health region for specific advice.