Drinking Water

We all deserve safe drinking water. One of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s role is to prevent and reduce water-borne illness related to drinking water. The TBDHU does this in a number of ways, including:

  • Surveillance and inspection of drinking water systems;
  • Timely response to drinking water adverse events (including issuing Boil Water Advisories as required), reports of water-borne illnesses or outbreaks, and other drinking water-related issues arising from emergencies;
  • Education and training of owners/operators of small drinking water systems;
  • Informing the public about unsafe drinking-water conditions and providing information to respond appropriately.
  • Helping homeowners interpret results (for example, whether or not the water meets safe drinking standards).Providing information on treatment methods.

For a full list of TBDHU’s responsibilities related to drinking water, please access the Ontario’s Drinking Water Protocol 2014.

Drinking Water and You

Well Water Safety

Regular testing of your well is important to make sure your water is safe for you and your family to drink. Bacteria such as E. coli can contaminate your well making it unsafe to drink. The risk is higher if you have animals in the area – especially on farms with livestock and other animals – but the bacteria can also occur naturally in the soil.

The TBDHU recommends testing at least three times per year for a drilled well: once after the spring melt and two more times during the spring/summer. If you have a dug well, you should test four times per year. You should also do additional testing after heavy rains or flooding on your property when there is a greater risk of surface water washing into your well (drilled or dug).


How to Test

You can have your water tested for free by the Ontario’s Public Health Laboratory (the Lab). The lab in Thunder Bay is located at 336 South Syndicate Avenue.

To have your water tested, it must be collected in a proper water collection kit.

You can get a kit from:

  •  The TBDHU’s main office at 999 Balmoral Street in Thunder Bay
  • The Lab at 336 South Syndicate Avenue in Thunder Bay
  • Any TBDHU branch office in the district communities

When you pick up your kit, make sure it includes:

  • A water bottle with a barcode sticker on the side
  • A plastic bag containing a submission form for the Lab and a small card for your records called "WATER RESULTS BY TELEPHONE"
  •  Check the lid of the bottle to make sure the tamper ring is not damaged – if it has snapped off, get another bottle.
  •  Instructions for how to take a water sample correctly.


What should I do if my well tests positive for bacterial contamination?

  1. Stop drinking the water and find other sources such as bottled water or municipal water if it’s available.
  2. If you have to use the well water, bring it to a rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for drinking, making baby formula, juice, ice, cooking, brushing teeth, rinsing contact lenses and washing food or dishes. Keep boiled water in the fridge until you use it.
  3. Disinfect your well. Instructions for how to disinfect your well can be found by visiting Public Health Ontario's Well Disinfection Tool
  4. Call the TBDHU for help with carrying out the instructions you will get from the Lab. You can reach a public health inspector at (807) 625-5900 or toll-free at 1-888-294-6630, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.


For Further Information

Call a Public Health Inspector at (807) 625-5930

or toll-free 1-888-294-6630, extension 5930

Last Updated: 06/03/2018