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


Drinking Water

Sample Collection and Preservation - Chemical/Physical Quality


  • For most basic parameters, use a clean polyethylene bottle available from water quality laboratories. A list of approved laboratories is available on the web at: Water Testing Labs.
  • For additional or specialized parameters, discuss the requirements with the laboratory or a trained professional before sampling.
  • Label the bottle with the water supply owner's name, location of the water source and/or sampling location, date, and time.
  • Make sure all information on the requisition is filled out completely. Registered water supply owners must also record the registration number.

Flush the System

  • If the sample is to be taken from a tap or pump, allow the water to run for 10 minutes if possible before collection. This will help to remove stagnant water that may have artificially elevated metal concentrations from the system.

Collect the Sample

  • Rinse the bottle and cap 2 to 3 times unless specialized sampling requires non-rinse procedures.
  • Turn flow volume down so that water runs gently.
  • Sample for sensitive parameters (organics, metals) first. Filtration and preservation may be necessary for metals, depending on the purpose of sampling.
  • Fill bottle to top (overflow) and cap tightly with no air gap.
  • If a treatment device is in place to remove any chemical or physical substances, two samples shall be collected, one sample from the raw water source and one sample from a point after treatment.

Storage and Transport

  • Samples shall be kept in a refrigerator or cooler with ice packs to maintain a temperature of 4°C until delivered to the lab. Samples should not be frozen. Samples should be kept in the dark.
  • Transport the sample to the laboratory as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.

How can I find out more information?

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