Reporting/testing water quality issues

If you suspect pollution or harmful algae, you should contact local agencies as soon as possible. These experts are the best resource for dealing with water issues.

If testing is time-sensitive, it is best to take a sample right then (i.e. you see a sewage overflow in real-time!). However, for sustained testing efforts, it is best to get sample containers directly from the lab you will be using, since they prepare bottles for specific tests.

You will be responsible for:

  • Taking the sample to the lab
  • Paying for the sample
  • Giving results to the appropriate organization

PLEASE NOTE: We do not cover lab costs.

Using our testkit supplies to take a lab sample

It is best to use a sterile sample container when you want to take a lab sample. Sterile sample containers are not included in your kit.

After taking a sample, store it in a dark, cool place and bring it to get tested within 24 hours.

How to take a lab sample

To find a lab in your region, Google “Water quality lab tests”. Check their opening hours. Some are not open on weekends. Common tests include: E.coli for sewage overflows, phosphorus for run-off, and so on. Ask the lab technician for help in determining which test to perform.

  • Take notes and record an issue/observation on Water Rangers so you have context/photos tagged to a GPS location.
  • Choose your testing receptacle, either the sterile sample cup (wrapped in plastic) or one of your Whirl Pak bags.
  • Label the sample with the date, time and location before you fill the container.
  • If you suspect toxins, put on your gloves.
  • If you are looking to use this as evidence for pollution, take a video of you sampling, and mark the sample container with a code so that you have proof that it is the same as the one that is being tested.
  • Take a sample, being careful to choose a site that you haven’t disturbed (since if there is only one test you should sample from the most concentrated source).
  • Seal container or roll over Whirl Pak bag multiple times to secure. Put inside a ziplock bag.
  • Store sample in a dark, cool spot, preferably with a cool pack.
  • As soon as you return to the shore, put sample in the fridge until you are ready to go to the lab.
  • Notify agencies.
  • Bring sample to the lab within 24 hours.
  • If results are serious, other agencies will need to get involved to ensure human safety and possibly further actions.
  • If possible, one person should take notes and photographs/video recordings, fill out tags, etc., while the other person collects the samples.