Municipal Affairs and Environment

Drinking Water Monitoring & Reporting

Policy for Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting for Public Water Supplies

Division: Water Resources Management P.D. W.R. 09-1
Prepared By: Annette Tobin, Haseen Khan, P.Eng. Issue Date: Jan 2, 2009
Approved By: Martin Goebel Director Re-Issue Date:
Approved By: ADM Review Date:
Authorized By: Bill Parrott DM Superseded:
Charlene Johnson Minister Cancelled:


Drinking Water Monitoring & Reporting

1.0 Objectives:

This policy establishes the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment’s drinking water quality monitoring and reporting requirements for all public water supplies.

2.0 Legislation

Water Resources Act, SNL 2002 cW-4.01, Section 39

3.0 Policy

The water quality monitoring and reporting activities for public water supplies will be subject to the following policy guidelines established under Section 39 of the Act.

4.0 Background

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador utilizes the Multi-Barrier Strategic Action Plan (MBSAP) to ensure the public is provided with clean and safe drinking water. The MBSAP is considered the most effective method to manage drinking water systems because it provides multiple levels of security against potential water contamination. The MBSAP has three levels;

  1. Source water protection; drinking water treatment; drinking water distribution system;
  2. Monitoring; inspection and enforcement; data management and reporting; operator education, training and certification;
  3. Legislative and policy frameworks; public involvement and awareness; guidelines, standards and objectives; research and development; and corrective measures.

This policy addresses monitoring and reporting in Level Two and legislative and policy frameworks and guidelines in Level Three. Bacteriological monitoring is undertaken by the Government Services Centre (GSC) as per established policy guidelines.

5.0 Drinking Water Quality Monitoring

5.1 Regular Monitoring

All public water supply systems shall be monitored for drinking water quality purposes.

5.1.1 Sampling Seasons

There are four seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall) that water quality monitoring occurs. There is a six to eight week sampling window within each season.

The four sampling windows for the Island portion of the province are:

Spring May 16th – June 30th
Summer August 1st – September 30th
Fall November 1st – December 15th
Winter January 15th – March 15th

The four sampling windows for Labrador are:

Spring May 1st – June 30th
Summer July1st – August 30th
Fall October 1st – November 15th
Winter January 1st – March 15th

5.1.2 Monitoring Parameters

Inorganic parameters analyzed for both source and tap water samples may include but are not limited to:

Alkalinity Conductivity Nitrate and Nitrite
Aluminum Copper pH
Ammonia Dissolved Organic Carbon Potassium
Arsenic Fluoride Selenium
Barium Hardness Sodium
Boron Iron Sulphate
Bromide Kjeldahl Nitrogen Total Dissolved Solids
Cadmium Lead Total Phosphorus
Calcium Magnesium Turbidity
Chloride Manganese Uranium
Chromium Mercury Zinc
Colour Nickel

Disinfection by-products analyzed for tap water samples may include but are not limited to:

  • Trihalomethanes
  • Haloacetic Acids

Monitoring parameters may be added or changed due to site-specific circumstances.

5.1.3 Sampling Frequency

Source water shall be sampled every two to three years. During the year the sources are sampled, the frequency is semi-annually.

Tap water shall be sampled a minimum of semi-annually for inorganic parameters. Tap water shall be sampled seasonally for large population centers with populations greater than 5,000

Disinfection by-products shall be sampled four times per year for all surface water supplies that utilize chlorine as a disinfectant. The four samples must encompass the four seasons.

Disinfection by-products shall be sampled at least once for all groundwater supplies that utilize chlorine as a disinfectant to establish background levels. If the value is below 10 µg/L no further sampling is required. If the value is above10 µg/L then it will be sampled four times per year and will encompass the four seasons.

Sampling rotations occur over a three-year period. Groundwater samples are taken during the summer and winter months and surface water samples during the spring and fall months for a three year period. During the next three year period, groundwater samples are taken during the spring and fall months and surface water samples during the summer and winter months. This ensures that seasonality of samples is assessed for all public drinking water supplies.

5.1.4 Performance Monitoring

Performance monitoring shall be completed on water treatment plants on a site-specific basis to determine the effectiveness of the water treatment systems. For comparative purposes, samples are to be taken before and after the water treatment system. To determine the effectiveness of the water treatment systems, monitoring for extreme variations in flows and water quality are to be conducted. Performance monitoring shall include parameters in section 5.1.2 along with other parameters deemed relevant.

5.1.5 Monitoring Protocols

Source water samples shall be collected directly from the source prior to disinfection or any other treatment. The sample shall be collected in close proximity to the intake as possible to ensure it represents the quality of water that flows into a treatment and/or distribution system.

Tap water samples shall be collected from a consumer tap using a grab sample method. The tap must be run for five minutes, or until it runs cold and clear and at a constant temperature, indicating that all standing or stagnant water is flushed from the plumbing system, and water has been drawn from the community’s distribution system. Samples shall be typically taken from one location, approximately 2/3rd of the way through the distribution system.

Disinfection by-products should be sampled at the point of maximum formation. The maximum formation for THMs is typically 2/3rd of the way through the system. The maximum formation of HAAs is typically towards the beginning of the system.

Samples shall be received by the laboratory a maximum of five days after sampling occurred. This is required to ensure sample hold times are met.

5.2 Special Monitoring

A review of emerging water quality parameters is to be completed on a yearly basis. Parameters that are determined to have potential impact for Newfoundland and Labrador are to be scheduled for special monitoring to determine the possible extent of the emerging parameter. On a site-specific basis emerging parameters are to be considered when there is a potential concern of a water quality parameter throughout the year. Emerging water quality parameters are to be added to the monitoring schedule as required.

Special monitoring shall be completed in the event of water quality issues, contamination events, special studies, evaluation of compromise to water distribution systems, environmental monitoring, pilot monitoring, or any other issue deemed necessary for water quality monitoring.

6.0 Drinking Water Quality Reporting

6.1 Exceedance Reports

Exceedance reports shall be provided to all communities when a laboratory result is above the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for contaminant parameters. These reports shall be faxed and/or mailed to the community as soon as the results are received by the Department. The community shall acknowledge the correspondence and fax and/or mail a signed copy of the exceedance report to the Department. An email shall be sent to the Medical Officer of Health, Health and Community Services, Government Services and Municipal Affairs to inform them of the water quality exceedance. A confirmation sample shall be collected for any community that has no history for that exceedance. The community shall be informed of the results of the confirmation sample by fax and/or mail.

6.2 Seasonal Drinking Water Quality Reports to specific communities

All communities with public water supplies shall be provided an interpretative report for any seasonal monitoring conducted. This report will clearly indicate any exceedances of parameters from the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

6.3 Annual Drinking Water Quality Reports

All communities with public water supplies shall receive an annual interpretative report for all drinking water quality monitoring activities conducted during the calendar year. This report will clearly indicate any exceedances of parameters from the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

6.4 Annual Drinking Water Safety in Newfoundland and Labrador Reports

A drinking water safety report shall be published annually which outlines accomplishments and activities under the Multi-Barrier Strategic Action Plan for drinking water safety. All communities shall be provided with a copy of the Annual Drinking Water Safety report when it is published.

6.5 Web Documents on Drinking Water Quality

Chemical drinking water quality monitoring schedule shall be published on the WRMD website at the beginning of each fiscal year. This schedule will detail the planned monitoring for the fiscal year for each public water supply. The schedule shall include the type and frequency of monitoring. Drinking water data for the preceding year is available on the WRMD website:

7.0 Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality in Newfoundland and Labrador

Guidelines used by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for drinking water quality are based on the “Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality” developed by Health Canada.

The guidelines listed below do not include all parameters in the Guidelines rather only those included in standard chemical analysis and metal scan packages.

Chemical Parameters MAC Description
Antimony 0.006 mg/L Contaminant
Arsenic 0.01 mg/L Contaminant
Barium 1.0 mg/L Contaminant
Boron 5 mg/L Contaminant
Cadmium 0.005 mg/L Contaminant
Chloride 250 mg/L Contaminant
Chromium 0.05 mg/L Contaminant
Copper 1.0 mg/L Aesthetic
Fluoride 1.5 mg/L Contaminant
Iron 0.3 mg/L Aesthetic
Lead 0.01 mg/L Contaminant
Mercury 0.001 mg/L Contaminant
Nitrate and Nitrite 10 mg/L Contaminant
Selenium 0.01 mg/L Contaminant
Sodium 200 mg/L Aesthetic
Sulphate 500 mg/L Aesthetic
Uranium 0.02 mg/L Contaminant
Zinc 5.0 mg/L Aesthetic
Physical Parameters
Colour 15 TCU Aesthetic
pH 6.5-8.5 Aesthetic
Total Dissolved Solids 500 mg/L Aesthetic
Turbidity 1.0 NTU Contaminant
Disinfection By-Products
Trihalomethanes 100 µg/L* Contaminant
Haloacetic Acids 80 µg/L* Contaminant

* Based on a running annual average of quarterly samples, collected at a point of the highest formation potential. A minimum of four samples per year, one in each season are required to determine if a particular water supply meets or exceeds the recommended limit.

Aesthetic Parameters – Aesthetic parameters reflect substances or characteristics of drinking water that can affect its acceptance by consumers but which usually do not pose any health effects.

Contaminant Parameters – Contaminants are substances that are known or suspected to cause adverse effects on the health of some people when present in concentrations greater than the established Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC) of the “Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality”. Each MAC has been derived to safeguard health assuming lifelong consumption of drinking water containing the substance at that concentration.

Additional information on drinking water quality guidelines is available on the Health Canada website. opens new window

Radionuclide Parameters
Natural radionuclides MAC Artificial radionuclides MAC
Lead-210 0.1 Bq/L Cesium-134 7 Bq/L
Radium-224 2 Bq/L Cesium-137 10 Bq/L
Radium-226 0.6 Bq/L Iodine-125 10 Bq/L
Radium 228 0.5 Bq/L Iodine-131 6 Bq/L
Thorium-228 2 Bq/L Molydenum-99 70 Bq/L
Thorium-230 0.4 Bq/L Strontium-90 5 Bq/L
Thorium-232 0.1 Bq/L Tritium 7,000 Bq/L
Thorium-234 20 Bq/L
Uranium-234 4 Bq/L
Uranium-235 4 Bq/L
Uranium-238 4 Bq/L
Bacteriological Parameters MAC
Escherichia coli (E.coli) None detectable per 100mL.
Total coliforms No consecutive samples from the same site or no more than 10% of the samples from each distribution system in a given sample set should show the presence of total coliforms.

See Bacteriological Quality of Drinking Water

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