Private well owners in Canada are responsible for maintenance, including routine sampling, of their private drinking water supply. Sampling rates in a Southern Ontario community are well below the public health recommendation. A study with private well owners was conducted to improve private well water sampling rates through the removal of two significant barriers to private well water testing.

During the pilot and extended study phases, 549 nitrate and 425 bacteriological water sampling bottles were delivered to private well owners and water samples were collected the following day. A follow-up telephone survey was conducted with both study participants and non-participants to identify barriers to private water sampling that were encountered by the study sample population.

Participation rates in the pilot and extended study phases were less than 50% prompting the follow-up telephone survey. Inconvenience and lack of time [statistically significant, P < 0.01] were found to be the main barriers for participation in the study.

The findings from this study illustrate the influence that certain barriers have on the frequency of private well water testing in a Southern Ontario community. The findings provide guidance for other health authorities to improve sampling rates.