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Private Water System Bacteria Testing and Subsidy Program

Approximately 15% of Manitobans rely on private water supplies as their source of drinking water. The vast majority of private water systems are comprised of wells and cisterns. A small percentage of the private systems rely on surface waters (e.g., lakes, dugouts or reservoirs) as the water source and apply treatment processes to make the water suitable for consumptive purposes.

Regardless of the type of private water system, routine testing for the presence of bacteriological contaminants is recommended. For wells or cisterns, the minimum recommended sampling frequency is once per year. Preferably, the sample should be taken when the system is most vulnerable to contamination, e.g. during spring melt or following a period of heavy rainfall. Additional testing should be conducted if the well or cistern has been affected by flooding or if there is a noticeable change in the water's taste, colour, odour, or clarity.

Private surface water systems should not be used for drinking unless you are absolutely certain the water has been properly filtered, disinfected, and ongoing water testing has demonstrated that the water is safe to drink. If you are consuming treated surface water, as a minimum, a water test should be conducted every change of season and following any maintenance completed on the treatment system.

Private Water System Bacteriological Subsidy Program -

The Province of Manitoba offers private water system owners a once-a-year subsidy for bacteriological (total coliform and E. coli) analysis of their drinking water through Horizon Lab. If the first sample result indicates the presence of bacteria, homeowners will receive a coupon from the lab for one resample free of charge.

Effective, April 1st, 2016, the total price to homeowners for the once-a-year subsidized sample is $21.26 (tax included).

For information regarding sample bottle pick-up, and sample submission requirements, please contact Horizon Lab directly.

Horizon Lab LTD.
4055 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3K 2E8
Phone: 204-488-2035
Fax: 204-488-4772

  Provincial Water Well Fact Sheets on well testing, well disinfection, and well water contamination are available at

If you have any further questions, please contact the Office of Drinking Water:

  • General inquiries, 204-945-5762;
  • Technical inquiries and guidance specifically related to private wells, 204-948-1351.