Residents on well water across Nova Scotia can now bring water samples to Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) for chemical and bacterial testing, thanks to an investment in new equipment.
Previous equipment lacked the capacity to process water samples for the whole province. As a result, most Nova Scotians outside of Halifax had limited access to testing or didn’t test their drinking water at all.
“We’re pleased to be able to offer improved access to this important service,” said Shauna Thompson, senior director of pathology and laboratory medicine with the NSHA. “It’s impossible to tell whether well water is safe to drink by looking at it, smelling it, or tasting it. It has to be tested.”
Nova Scotia Environment recommends that Nova Scotians on well water have it tested for bacteria every six months and every two years for chemical parameters. Some commonly tested chemicals include but are not limited to arsenic, fluoride, lead nitrate/nitrite, and uranium.
Bacterial quality is usually assessed by a coliform test. Bacterial testing will continue to be conducted at laboratories in local hospitals. Chemical testing will be sent to the laboratory at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.
With the efficiencies of the new equipment, the laboratory is able to test a larger number of samples, which allows NSHA to offer this service to all Nova Scotians.
Nova Scotians can now pick up and drop off water testing bottles for chemical or bacterial testing at locations throughout the province.
Fees vary based on tests requested. To ensure the sustainability of high-quality water testing services, pricing was recently reviewed to determine standardized, provincial prices. These prices had not been reviewed previously and it was necessary to adjust pricing for bacterial testing.
As a result of standardized pricing, some clients will see an increase in the price of bacterial tests and others will see a decrease. Going forward, rates will be reviewed each year to ensure pricing is current and to avoid significant price changes in future.