Industry best practice manual for water quality management and sterilisation on-farm

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Operating procedure: Water sampling

Web resource: Water monitoring and sampling manual, Department of Environment and Science (2018)


Samples should be collected at source, storage and at the end of a drinker line using a sterile container and analysed at an accredited laboratory. The laboratory should be contacted for sampling and sample transport advice.

DoDo not
  • Use a clean, sterile bottle.
  • Collected in an approved sampling bottle.
  • With a completed requisition form.
  • Label the bottle (not the lid) before sampling.
  • Adequately flush the line.
  • Disinfect the tap using an approved method.
  • Take microbiological samples first.
  • Touch the inside of the bottle.
  • Rinse the bottle.
  • Touch the inside of the bottle or allow contact between the bottle and the tap.
  • Put caps on the ground while sampling.
  • Transport drinking water samples with other water sample types, e.g. sewage.
  • Sampling points

    Each farm may require samples from multiple sampling points. The sampling points should each be labelled with the sampling position and date, as well as the farm name.

    • Raw source water: Point at which the water comes onto the farm-mains, river, dam, bore.
    • After water treatment – pre-treatment and sanitisation: This point indicates the effectiveness of treatments and disinfection
    • Far end of the water line: This is the furthest point of the furthest spur from where the water enters the farm chosen to indicate the quality of water after it has passed through the maximum length of farm plumbing

    General sampling procedure

    1. Clearly label the sample bottle.
    2. Turn the tap/drinker/etc. on to the highest flow level and allow the water to run. Thirty seconds is generally sufficient. This flushes the interior of the nozzle and discharges stagnant water.
    3. Open the bottle ‐ retain the cap but do not touch inside it. Do not empty any preservative from the bottle!
    4. Hold the bottle near the base of the tap to get the sample.
    5. Put the cap on the bottle right away. Make sure the cap is secure, but do not overtighten it.
    6. Fill out the requisition and include the information below.
    7. Put the sample in a cooler filled with ice packs.
    8. Reassemble waterline/drinker components and check water delivery at drinkers.
    9. Arrange transport to the laboratory.

    The temperature should be controlled when transporting samples to a laboratory, in line with the requirements of ISO 17025, the AWDG and the Monitoring and Sampling Manual Environmental (DES 2018) as shown in Table 41.

    Table 41. Temperature control requirements for water samples based on ISO 17025, NHMRC and NRMMC (2011) and DES (2018)

    Sample typeRequirement
    All microbiological samplesDelivered within 6 hours of sampling or up to 24 hours if kept below 6°C (not frozen)
    Chemistry for standard chemical analysisDelivered below 10°C (not frozen)
    Environmental waters or sewage for chemical and microbiological analysisDelivered within 6 hours of sampling or up to 24 hours if kept below 6°C (not frozen)
    For all other specific chemistry on drinking waterPlease contact the laboratory for advice

    These sampling guidelines help ensure the stability of sample characteristics to best represent parameters at the point of origin and therefore give you the most accurate results.

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