Cistern Water Testing

Testing water from private cisterns is the responsibility of each property owner. To ensure your cistern water is safe to drink, we recommend testing your cistern water at least four times each year for bacteria.

How to test cistern water

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care provides free water testing for bacteria, including E.coli and total coliform, from private cisterns.

Follow these steps to test your cistern water:

  • Municipal Service Centres are open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • The Public Health Lab is open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4 pm.
  • Hours for additional locations vary.
Locations in Ancaster Pick-up Drop-off Availability
Municipal Service Centre
300 Wilson Street East, Ancaster, Ontario
yes yes year-round

Copetown General Store
2012 Governors Road, Copetown, Ontario

yes no year-round
Locations in Dundas Pick-up Drop-off Availability

Municipal Service Centre
60 Main Street, Dundas, Ontario

yes yes year-round
Locations in Flamborough Pick-up Drop-off Availability

Municipal Service Centre
163 Dundas Street East, Waterdown, Ontario

yes yes year-round

97 General Store
1817 Regional Road 97, Valens, Ontario

yes no year-round

Carlisle Post Office
Centre Road, Carlisle, Ontario

yes no  year-round

Rockton Berry Farm
621 Highway 8, Rockton, Ontario

yes no  

Lynden Post Office
94 Lynden Road, Lynden, Ontario

yes no year-round
Locations in Glanbrook Pick-up Drop-off Availability

Municipal Service Centre
4280 Binbrook Road, Glanbrook, Ontario

yes yes year-round
Locations in Hamilton Pick-up Drop-off Availability

Public Health Lab
250 Fennell Avenue West, Hamilton, Ontario

yes yes year-round

Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario

yes yes year-round
Locations in Stoney Creek Pick-up Drop-off Availability

Municipal Service Centre
777 Highway 8, Stoney Creek, Ontario

yes yes year-round

Highland Country Markets
432 Highland Road East, Stoney Creek, Ontario

yes no year-round

Use the sample bottle provided by the Ministry to collect a water sample.  Follow the instructions that come with the bottle closely for accurate results.

Bring your water sample to one of the locations that accepts drop-off’s listed above within 12 hours of collecting it from your cistern.  Keep the water sample cool while you bring it in for testing.  Sample freshness is essential for accurate tests.

Complete the form provided in the test kit so results can be mailed to you or write down the number below the bar code so you can call in to get test results later.

We do not accept water samples from untreated surface water such as lakes, streams and ponds. We do not accept water samples from areas outside the City of Hamilton.

Wait for your water test results. If you completed the form provided in the testing kit, your water test results are mailed to your home. Otherwise, follow the instructions on the blue card enclosed with your testing kit to get your test results from the automated telephone system.

Water test results

You will get your well water test results by mail if you completed the form in the testing kit or you can follow instructions on the blue card enclosed with your testing kit to get test results from the automated telephone system.

If test results indicate the water is unsafe to drink, do not use the cistern water for drinking.  Inspect the cistern and re-test the water. If the test results indicate the water is unsafe for drinking but the cistern appears clean and maintained, disinfect the cistern.

Repeated test results that indicate the water is unsafe to drink may mean you need to install a permanent disinfection device such as a chlorinator or ultraviolet system.