Water Sampling

BS 8550:2010 Guide for the auditing of water quality sampling

A key standard for those involved in testing water and making it safe for use.

The sampling and analysis of drinking water supplies is one of the key elements in the protection of public health.

BS 8550 provides an audit protocol to monitor conformity with declared, or assumed, practices in all areas of water quality sampling.

Specifically, the standard provides guidance on the systematic assessment of sampling practices and procedures in the field, and assessing conformity with those given in the organization’s sampling manual. It is applicable to the audit of sampling activities from the development of a sampling manual through to the delivery of samples to the laboratory.

BS 8550 will serve practitioners across the whole range of water quality monitoring areas, for example:


  • Wastewaters including discharges to water bodies
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Potable water supply
  • Potable water distribution and use within buildings
  • Commercial and industrial uses of water
  • Power generation
  • Meteorological monitoring.

Who should use BS 8550?



  • Water industry (including the environment agency)
  • Environmental health officers
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) specialists
  • Water management companies
  • Facilities management companies
  • Consulting engineers
  • Geotechnical engineers
  • Hydrogeological consultants
  • University departments involved in field studies
  • Power generators and other peripheral organizations with a water trade affinity.

See also:

BS 8551 : Provision and management of temporary water supplies and distribution networks (not including provisions for statutory emergencies) - Code of practice


BSI has many standards related to the microbiological aspects of water.

The consequences of not taking a water sample correctly is a result that could generate the wrong decision. This could lead to unwarranted punitive action, an uneccessary overreaction to health risks, avoidable costs, or an undetected breach of control values. A properly designed and executed sampling regime is therefore essential for the economic, resource and public health sustainability.

It is widely recognised that the process of sampling contributes the largest proportion of error in a test result. Monitoring water quality is an imperative across the whole economic spectrum The four key impacts on any business and society at large include:

  • Environmental - regulated and essential for resource protection
  • Health Protection - regulated to maintain employee health as well as the wider population
  • Process Management - unregulated but essential for business viability
  • Contractual Compliance - unregulated but essential for profitable actvity

Use of water quality sampling standards provides essential guidance on the planning of sampling regime, practice management and preservation and handling. Water quality sampling standards are therfore applicable to all areas sectors of the economy which use or impact on water.

Related standards:

DD ENV ISO/TR 13843:2001
Water quality. Guidance on validation of microbiological methods

BS EN ISO 19458:2006
Water quality. Sampling for microbiological analysis

BS 8496:2007
Water quality. Enumeration of micro-organisms in water samples. Guidance on the estimation of variation of results with particular reference to the contribution of uncertainty of measurement

More information and the full list of standards can be found at the BSI shop.


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BS 8550:2010

Guide for the auditing of water quality sampling