Bore water testing

Bore water, also known as groundwater, does not have the same level of security as that provided to households connected to reticulated supplies. It is susceptible to natural and human-induced contamination.

Natural bore water contaminants include micro-organisms and human-induced contaminants include chemicals such as heavy metals, pesticides, hydrocarbons and nitrates and even radioactive isotopes.

While bore water may appear clear and clean because the ground naturally filters out particulate matter, this does not mean it's safe for drinking or other uses.

We offer a package of microbiological and chemical bore water tests for private bores. Please refer to application form for further details on requesting our services.

The analyses included in the test packages described below have been developed in consultation with SA Health. If you wish to collect the samples yourself, we will provide the appropriate bottles and instructions.

Note. If you have a bore that is used for commercial or public purposes the testing requirements may be different. Please contact the SA Health’s Scientific Services on 08 8226 7100 to obtain further information.

Microbiological tests

Water in bores can sometimes be contaminated by micro-organisms from human, bird or animal faeces. The source could be from a leaking septic tank, wastewater drainage, bird or possum faeces. Our micro-organism (E.coli) testing will provide you with an indication if your borewater has been contaminated in this way.

Due to the strict sampling requirements for microbiological analysis, we recommend that bore water samples are collected by AWQC Field Services Officers only. This process typically involves flaming the source tap, taking the sample in a sterile bottle leaving an air gap, chilling the sample, and importantly, ensuring the sample arrives at the laboratory within 24 hours of collection. Please note. Samples not meeting these requirements may deem the sample unsuitable and therefore accuracy of results cannot be guaranteed.

Chemical tests

Bore water quality varies widely depending on the quality of the groundwater that is its source.

Common water quality problems include high salinity and high levels of nitrate/nitrite which can cause “blue baby” syndrome. High levels of iron in the water can cause iron bacteria to build up in agricultural dripper systems. Other heavy metals as well as volatile organic compounds can also be present due to industrial contamination.

E.coli1 x Sterile 300mL plastic, with an air gap, kept chilled
Chloride, total chloride calculation, fluoride, oxidised nitrogen, nitrate, nitrite1 x 350mL plastic, with no air gap, kept chilled
Volatile organic compounds This is only deemed necessary for bores within metropolitan Adelaide by SA Health1 x 500mL Glass, with no air gap, kept chilled
pH, conductivity and total dissolved Solids1 x 250mL plastic, with no air gap, kept chilled
Antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, soluble boron, badmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, potassium, selenium, silver, sodium, sulphur, uranium, vanadium and zinc, total hardness calculation, total magnesium calculation and marcusolerium.1 x 250mL Acid Washed plastic, with no air gap, kept chilled AND 1 x 100mL Acid Washed glass, with no air gap, kept chilled

To proceed with testing

Download this application form and return the completed form to by email to, fax: 1300 883 171 or post to: AWQC, Attn. Customer Service Unit, PO Box 1751, Adelaide SA 5001.

Once we receive your application we will send you a formal Customer Service Request with a proposed sample date (unfortunately we cannot provide a precise time of collection).

Please note. To begin testing we require the 2nd page (work acceptance section) of the Customer Service Request to be completed and returned before testing can commence.

If the Customer Service Request was emailed, a response to the email confirming you request to proceed will be sufficient.

Important disclaimer. While all advice and recommendations are made in good faith, the AWQC does not accept any liability or responsibility for the actions taken by an individual as a result of information provided. For this reason, you will need to contact SA Health’s Scientific Services on 08 8226 7100 for expert interpretation of your bore water quality testing services.